An introduction to a lecture

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Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the first lecture of our new course in Positive Psychology. While some people may associate psychology with looking at what's wrong with us, and at what problems we have, there is much more to psychology than that. Positive psychology, for example, looks at how to help people become happier.

This lecture begins with a question: what makes a happy life?

Now, I'm going to give you one possible answer. A happy life is a life in which you are completely absorbed in what you do. Now, how does this compare with what you and your partner said? 

This answer comes from the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the theory of flow. Csikszentmihalyi is a psychologist who has spent much of his professional life on the study of what makes people happy and how we can find happiness.

Csikszentmihalyi suggests the theory that happiness is not caused by external events or things that happen to us. Our perception of these things and how we see these events either makes us happy or sad. In other words, if we want happiness, we have to actively look for it. However, this does not mean that we should always look for happiness! Csikszentmihalyi believed that our happiest moments happen when we are in a state of flow.

The theory of flow can be summarised like this: when we are totally involved in, or focused on, what we are doing, we are in a state of flow.

Csikszentmihalyi got the inspiration for this theory when he noticed how artists worked in a studio. They completely lost track of time, they didn't notice they were hungry or tired, and they could work for hours, even days, without stopping. Anyone I have spoken to who has experienced this state of concentration has said it's difficult to explain. The best way to explain it is that it is like being in a river and the flow of the water carries you away.

For the rest of this lecture, I will explore this theory of flow in more detail. First we will look at Csikszentmihalyi's life, and how it influenced his ideas. Then we will look at the conditions that go with a state of flow. What creates flow, exactly? Finally, we will look at activities that can help us achieve flow in our everyday lives. Will this course make you happy for life? Well, maybe. Maybe. 

Right, let's get started. If you look at the next slide …

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Soumis par Hibdah le mar 03/11/2020 - 23:24

Yeeeees, I experienced state of flow many times and I can say I knew the real happiness. It happened when I get absorbed in studying mathematical equations. I really love this article, it's just like I am talking about my experience. Many times I lost track to eat, I was concerned nothing except my goal. In the first I felt like it's just a duty to do later on I became in love with what I do. I did it because I wanted not because someone else wanted me to do.
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Soumis par javibuendi le mar 03/11/2020 - 10:21

Yes, I´m in a state of flow in many situations. For example, when I´m playing some sport, like football or padel. In those moments I feel absorbed and I even lose track of time. Another example is when I´m spending time with my girlfriend, she always brings out the best in me. Cheers from Madrid.

Soumis par togrul01 le ven 30/10/2020 - 19:50

Actually, if I'm boxing I'm in a state of flow. By the way, when I'm listening to music I'm in there too.

Soumis par nialataria le sam 24/10/2020 - 11:10

Maybe when I paint I'm in a "state of flow"))) Then you can lose a track of time and be totally absorbed in process

Soumis par Ugulhan le lun 19/10/2020 - 10:16

Most students who learn the English language, they are absorbed in what they are doing. Even me too I lost track of having my breakfast or sleeping.

Soumis par habibao.medo le dim 11/10/2020 - 17:03

i don't think i have been in a state of flow before but maybe when i am reading my favorite novel , i fell very happy that i can dance in the room for hours i think that is flow
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Soumis par Smiley1 le sam 10/10/2020 - 14:14

Ah, yeah.,. quite often... when I’m having a great dish. ;-)

Soumis par mcambindo22 le ven 09/10/2020 - 22:28

Yes, I have been in state of a flow constantly of happiness while I am with my family or when I am studying even though there are some situations when I don't understand something and feeling a bit sad, but I remember my goals and continue striving.

Soumis par Dariusz le ven 02/10/2020 - 14:28

Yes I have been. I am in a "state of flow" for example when I learn english.
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Soumis par danisep le mer 09/09/2020 - 00:46

That happened to me a lot when I was in school, I used to play the guitar and used to spare all the afternoon playing, listening and reading about music. Those days have gone, but now I use this time to learn new things and grow like a person and professional.

Soumis par katyatorres le mar 08/09/2020 - 04:12

Yeah, I remember being in that stage when I'm at the church and I'm praying and worshiping to God. I forget the time because I'm focusing on that special moment.

Soumis par Abbasshirdast le mer 02/09/2020 - 15:20

some times, I'm watching movies with horror genre. I love this categorize of movies. during watching it, I ignore from the passage of time. the movie maybe has long as 2 or 3 hours, but it don't caused the tiring me. by this way, my mind less involved to our problem. the another thing that I like to do for getting out of problems is walking.

Soumis par Ugulhan le lun 31/08/2020 - 07:24

The state of flow can happen to my English habits. When I started to practice English then if I would meet some interesting themes I lose track of time and I would sit within long hours.
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Soumis par Jonathan R le lun 31/08/2020 - 04:38

En réponse à par Razan Mahairy


Hi Razan Mahairy,

Thanks for your kind comments. It is an interesting topic, isn't it? We're glad you found these listenings useful. 

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Hill le jeu 27/08/2020 - 03:37

I have been in a state of flow once I am reading books, especially my interesting books. I define the happiness is the time you do things with all your concentration and do not pay attention to things around you. The ways you do things, the goals you achieve is more important than how much you did.

Soumis par Daniela Zapata le mer 26/08/2020 - 23:25

Yes, I have been in a state of flow a lot of times. Usually, when I am drawing or doing some work, I lost track of time.

Soumis par Rinaa le lun 24/08/2020 - 22:04

To be honest these days I found myself in a state of flow. I'm full commitment to learning English, and sometimes I spend many hours In front of the Laptop, doing exercise to improve it without noticing that time has passed. I'm totally absorbed in it, without having an interest in anything else. I'm totally concentrated on becoming fluent in English.

Soumis par Suane Alves le ven 14/08/2020 - 20:18

Yes, When I'm doing something that I like the time can fly by and I don't even notice. For example, this activity is when I am read a book, learn English, listening to my songs, talking to a friend, or eating barbecue with my family. I feel the state of flow.

Soumis par Asni le lun 10/08/2020 - 00:47

When I enjoy what I'm doing, I'm in a state of flow. For example, when I go to the gym and start working out, I forget about everything...I just feel like I'm different, I'm proud of myself and satisfied, it gives me a great positive feeling and a lot of energy...

Soumis par IKEDA le sam 01/08/2020 - 06:58

I have the experience of flow sometimes. While I do programming, I often forget times and I'm surprised myself how long I have done that. I heard Csikszentmihalyi for the first time in this unit and I was impressed by the theory of "flow", I want to read his book soon.

Soumis par fahri le ven 31/07/2020 - 01:49

The happy is if you feeling, showing, or causing pleasure or satisfaction. The keynote are pleasure and satisfaction. If you pleasure and satisfaction with something or with someone or with situation then you are happy people. And If you not pleasure and not satisfaction with something or with someone or with situation then you are not happy people
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Soumis par Hennadii le jeu 30/07/2020 - 10:28

The state of flow is my life )) I'm not the anti-flow person, actually. I don't like to struggle with something difficult I prefer to find my pros and new possibilities. I think everyone needs to find his (her) own way to harmony, find a passion in one's life and the method how-to relax, recharge one's battery, and move forward. It's hard but finding your personal way to happiness is a reason for being.

Soumis par abudo93 le sam 25/07/2020 - 23:07

Yes, that's always happening when I do new work, especially while I'm wake up after.

Soumis par Hn0062 le dim 19/07/2020 - 11:35

in principle, each of us have experienced it a few times, even it probably happened about some small issues, for instantce: whe I am learning a new thing in English languege, I would rather go on study it for hours.I am full of enthusiasm for learning at that time. I concentrate for studying. personlly, I enjoy study English. But i am sometimes tired about it and I can't get anything and I feel done.

Soumis par wahbi baklouti le jeu 02/07/2020 - 20:41

I have been in a state of flow when I'm working or learn something that I love. I start to focus on it and absorb everything.

Soumis par Miho Watanabe le lun 22/06/2020 - 07:54

Yes, I have. When I was junior high school student, I was absorbed in playing badminton. I was a member of badminton club at junior high school, so I always practiced badminton to win a lot of games. Then, the more I practiced it, the more my skill of badminton was improved. So, I think I was in a state of flow.

Soumis par byterz76 le sam 20/06/2020 - 01:33

I'm a musical producer and the state of flow is exacvlty how I fell when I do music, now I'm very ompressed with that, because in this moment of my life, music is the only thing that makes me happy, altough, studying english makes me so happy too ♥

Soumis par senes19 le jeu 18/06/2020 - 21:39

Yes, for many times I have to say I am absorbed in what i am doing. I think in the life the most important thing is to evaluate the time and period. If we achieve this evaluate, we would save our past and future. Evaluating the time which now we are living means a lot of opportunities for us to be able successful. I belive that our strongest point is having to ability to evaluate the moment.

Soumis par Sharif Tayyebi le mar 16/06/2020 - 21:11

Yes, of course. I was in a "state of flow" while I was studying mathematics. When I was at school I loved mathematics. After graduating from school, I studied political science and law. There was a course that was named Obligation Law. It was very interesting for me. Therefore, when I was reading books in that field, I was attracted to, which is named "absorbed" by positive psychologists. When I was studying criminal law in my M.A. degree, the philosophy of criminal law was very nice. So, I usually enjoyed and felt pleasure, when I was reading theories of criminal law. Then, I applied and succeeded in AIHRC and there were many things, but I was interested in philosophy of human rights. Now I am reading a book in the field of criminal law and it is very interesting. So, I am obviously having a pleasure time with it. Regards, Tayyebi

Soumis par Nagato le sam 23/05/2020 - 19:58

I don't support this I theory of flow because many tines I was in state of flow and I wasn't happy. In my opinion we get the happiness when we ignore our problem and also when we enjoy what we are doing، by other word happiness is contentment.
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Soumis par JuanManuelLopezGil le lun 11/05/2020 - 23:29

Yes, of course. I have been in a "state of flow" before my travel to Malta because visited all my friends and share many time with my family.

Soumis par AMOUGOU Abega … le dim 10/05/2020 - 09:32

of course, i think everyone has experienced the state of flow. in fact it depents of what you're doing, if it concerne a very interesting subjet you'll obviously being in state of flow. for my part i used to felt asleep when i watch a boring movie, but when it's on interesting subjets, i usually forget about things surounding me, feel totally absorbed.

Soumis par RiccardoLippi le dim 03/05/2020 - 10:09

Yes I have. I have been in a "state of flow" during all the New Years holiday which I have spent with my friends at the Lago Maggiore. During those days I felt very well, they were a continuous party. I think that Csikszentmihalyi was right when he defined the "State of Flow". During those days the time was stopped and I didn't think about my problems and my worries, I felt only well with people which I loved. Rarely it happened while I was studying or working, but I think that is the same for almost all people.

Soumis par Arekisan le dim 03/05/2020 - 04:23

Yes. It's necessary for me when I need to focus on any kind of work or something good. I can waste a lot of time while doing it, but if it was useful, it makes me happy.

Soumis par Carlos Castillo le ven 17/04/2020 - 02:21

Yeah. When I have to solve a problem, I just focus on it and the time just pass away.

Soumis par Daudau0601 le jeu 16/04/2020 - 03:55

Yes of course. I am in a state of flow while i'm studying. I have a habit when i start learning, i turn off face book or social network to focus on studying effectively. So i completely lost track of time.
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Soumis par dinhhang le mer 15/04/2020 - 04:14

yes, I had. when I draw I can lost track of time, I feel the time flow so fast.

Soumis par Ayzhan le lun 13/04/2020 - 17:20

Hi everyone! Yes, indeed, I know this feeling, when I am in "a state of flow" - it is happen when I involved in something interesting to me. Yes, its very fantastic feeling- in these moments - I am very happy.

Soumis par micaela le sam 04/04/2020 - 02:10

Yes, I been in a "state of flow" when I was really enjoyed in an activity or when I was really worried about something. So I am not sure that the "state of flow" means a state of happyness.

Soumis par jason2295 le ven 20/03/2020 - 00:23

I used to be in a state of flow when I was doing my university homework, in that time I preferred to study at night time late due to there wasn't any noise around.

Soumis par jazmin marquez le lun 16/03/2020 - 11:58

Sure, I've been in "flow state" when I'm teaching. In those moments time passes faster and I forget all my problems. I have also been in this state while practicing some physical activities, such as running and cycling. This matter made me think about the importance of a good choice of our work and professions; on this depends our happiness!!!!
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Soumis par Nikolaos Stavr… le lun 16/03/2020 - 11:11

For sure, I've been in a "state of flow" Whenever I study English I concentrate so hard that I lose track of time. Thank you

Soumis par Birgit17 le dim 01/03/2020 - 17:59

Hello Everyone I agree with this theory. As for me, even though I am not an artist, I maintain that I am really happy when I focus on an activity. Because I am totally involved and therefore, there is no time to think at all. My brain is completely concentrated and I don't have any time to think. I have been learning English for two years on a daily basis. I am keen on learning English everyday. During all the time I am learning, I feel an extreme relief of peace. That also happened last year, when I was painting the walls of my whole flat. We shouldn't think. Never. Thoughts are the venom of our mind. In my opinion, obviously.
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Soumis par Smiley1 le jeu 20/02/2020 - 12:28

Yes....! I'm in a state of flow whenever I visit this site! ( ˃̶͈ ᴗ ˂̶͈ )

Soumis par mselmi le jeu 20/02/2020 - 08:21

I'm completely absorbed in my work. I'm always in a state of flow. I'm always happy even I don't have work to do. Curently, I am involved in learning English from 8 am to 12 pm while wainting to receive a purchase order from my partners. Also, Learning English will help me to get my English better and then get more work. So external events whatever they are sad dont affect me.

Soumis par shahhoseini le mer 19/02/2020 - 16:10

Yes, I think many people who work on research activities like me, have been in a 'state of flow'. When you research a subject, you should concentrate very high and completely lost track of time.

Soumis par conejo le lun 17/02/2020 - 00:05

I have been in a "state of flow" in my job, when I worked for an specific goal and deadline.