A recent post on New York Magazine’s website gushed about ultra-marathoners who run in a state of “flow,” a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to describe the experience of people who are focused, productive, and happy. According to the author, even casual runners recognize flow as “getting in the zone, cranking out your best stuff, and just being awesomely lost in a creative process.” Endorphin-induced feelings of accomplishment, focus, and strength produce in the runner a “near-spiritual feeling of Zen and nirvana,” the author asserts. The premise seems simple: run, experience flow, and you’ll become happier and more productive.
But if you read Csikszentmihalyi’s work, you’ll find it’s not that easy.
Genuinely happy individuals are few and far between.
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience