Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi died at the age of 87 this week. Csikszentmihalyi is best known for pioneering the concept of "flow," which he used to describe a cognitive state of intense focus, productivity, and creativity.
- Csikszentmihalyi was born in the Croatian city of Fiume to Hungarian parents.
- His father was a diplomat at the Hungarian Consulate. His family moved to Rome after the end of World War II, with Csikszentmihalyi's father resigning from his diplomatic post in 1949 after the Communist takeover of Hungary.
- He immigrated to the United States at 22 years old, studying at the University of Chicago for his undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology.
- He completed his BA in 1959 and his Ph.D. in 1965.
- His Ph.D. thesis was titled Artistic problems and their solutions; an exploration of creativity in the arts.
- Csikszentmihalyi researched creativity, motivation, and happiness. He was seen as an early proponent of what is now known as positive psychology. His seminal book was Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
- He described flow as:
- "a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it."
- For Csikszentmihalyi, flow was crucial to living a fulfilling life. He wrote:
- "The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times ... The best moments usually occur if a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."