First off I thoroughly enjoyed both meeting Csikszentmihalyi in the morning and his presentation at night. He is very insightful yet down to earth which made conversing with him all the more enjoyable. Coming from the field of video games, Csikszentmihalyi’s work on flow is something that is used throughout the industry as many games are trying to put the player in a state of flow by balancing the challenge the game is providing with the skill set the game has taught thus far in a pleasurable way.
From a happiness perspective I think this accurately describes the state a person enters when they are deeply enjoying something. My problem though is I don’t think this accurately reflects the moments of creativity. I think that there is a second type of flow that is achieved in the low challenge, low skill “apathy” column. Many times I’ve been in this state and still meet many of the criteria of flow outlined such as timeless, focused, etc. In terms of creativity I’ve also come up with my best ideas while doing things listed in this category such as taking a shower. In fact there is other evidence supporting this notion of having creative “Eureka” moments in this state. Kekule staring at a fire, Einstein working in a patent office, are both examples of people coming up with these ah-ha “Eureka” moments while doing something that puts them, according to Csikszentmihalyi’s chart, in the apathy quadrant. I’ve also been in a state of high level flow while not engaged in a creative act at all.
At one point Csikszentmihalyi briefly showed a chart with a diagonal area for flow caught between anxiety and boredom. I think this chart might actually be a better representation of flow in the creative process because it allows for the creative process to occur at any point as long as there’s a balance of challenge and skill, not just at high levels of each.
In regards to my creative project another element of difficult is that games strive to reach this state of flow which may be an element of the creative process, but it is not about the act of discovery and how the cultivation of ideas work. Csikszentmihalyi’s idea on flow and the connection to video games is almost in a state of contradiction with what I’m trying to do by teaching the cultivation of ideas.