Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Quotes

Democritus was neither the first nor the last thinker to be lost in the flow of the mind. Philosophers have frequently been regarded as being “absentminded,” which of course means not that their minds were lost, but that they had temporarily tuned out of everyday reality to dwell among the symbolic forms of their favorite […]

I’ve met many of these inventors who invent something that cannot work, that is theoretically impossible. But they spent three years developing it, running a motor without electricity, with magnets. You explain to them it won’t work. It violates the second law of thermodynamics. And they say, “Don’t give me your goddamn Washington laws.”

Many contemporary artists experiment with hallucinogens in the hope of creating work as mysteriously haunting as those verses of the Kubla Khan that Samuel Coleridge allegedly composed under the influence of laudanum. Sooner or later, however, they realize that the composition of any work of art requires a sober mind. Work that is carried out […]

Contrary to what we usually believe… the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort […]

In all cultures, men are brought up to be “masculine” and to disregard and repress those aspects of their temperament that the culture regards as “feminine,” whereas women are expected to do the opposite. Creative individuals to a certain extent escape this rigid gender role stereotyping. When tests of masculinity/femininity are given to young people, […]

Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives… most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity… (and) when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.

Creative individuals are also remarkably humble and proud at the same time. It is remarkable to meet a famous person whom you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead. Yet there are good reasons why this should be so. In the first place, these individuals are well aware that […]

Such events do not occur only when the external conditions are favorable, however: people who have survived concentration camps or who have lived through near-fatal physical dangers often recall that in the midst of their ordeal they experienced extraordinarily rich epiphanies in response to such simple events as hearing the song of a bird in […]

There have been a lot of unfortunate cases of writers, painters, who have been melancholic, depressed, taken their own lives. I don’t think it goes with the territory. I think those people would have been depressed, or alcoholic, suicidal, whatever, even if they weren’t writing. I just think it’s their characterological makeup. Whether that characterological […]

Another viewer describes the unsettling physical dimension of the aesthetic flow experience, which resembles the shock a body feels when diving into a pool of cold water: When I see works that come close to my heart, that I think are really fine, I have the strangest reaction: which is not always exhilarating, it is […]