“It is not length of Life, but depth of life.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote really sums up the meaning of this book.
Mihaly teaches the value of finding flow in everyday life.
Flow is when you are completely immersed in a subject and can focus completely.
You have probably felt it many times when working, playing sports or spending time with people you like. You forget about everything else and get completely immersed in what you are doing, time flies and you are producing great results.
Happiness is doing things that have meaning
Mihaly has done a lot of research with people on how they feel during the day; the method he uses is called ESM (You can read about it on Wikipedia).
The parameters he measures for your level of happiness (or depth of life) is how much time you spend doing activities that enhance your life and in what ways the activities enhance life. He breaks it down into Concentration, Enjoyment, Happiness, Self-esteem and Important to Future.
These parameters are what are used to measure how much meaning and happiness you will get from your days.
His research shows that these figures go up when working (except enjoyment and happiness) but are at their peak when doing active leisure activities such as sports and hobbies.
Finding flow in everyday life
What he discusses as important is that you learn to completely immerse yourself in what you do, that you are able to actively participate in life which will give it more meaning and value.
When I read what Mihaly thinks I got the distinct impression that he is an anti-feminist, anti-homosexual and an atheist, a strange combination if you ask me and one I truly disagree with and want to take distance from.
I believe women have the same rights as men, that men can be the ones who do things around the house and take care of the kids, if they wish. I think people should get to be homosexual if they want to; it is none of my business to judge.
The book is good but didn’t change my life
It is an interesting read and you do learn a lot about the mind, about flow, about how to think and evaluate yourself but there isn’t much actionable in it. I have learned to be more aware of myself but not in a larger extent.
If you are interested in learning more about the mind I do think this book is a worthy read, Mihaly is a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago so he knows what he is talking about.
You can find the book here.