Flow: The Psychology of Happiness | Book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is all about creating the conditions to make work feel like play.
If you’re not familiar with the term ‘flow’ it refers to the feeling of being totally absorbed in any activity, so much so that you feel “strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of [your] abilities”. I’ve been interested in flow for a while and wrote about it in a post on Lifehack.
The book talks through the psychology of enjoyable experiences, with some interesting ideas on how enjoyment and pleasure differ. Csikszentmihalyi says that pleasure is somewhat shallow and fleeting, whilst enjoyment leaves a lasting footprint. Achieving flow is about making experiences enjoyable, rather than just focusing on pleasure.
If this all sounds kind of vague, don’t worry — Csikszentmihalyi goes into the specifics of how to actually do this. He lists key criteria that make achieving flow achievable (stuff like having clear goals and progression, ensuring a suitable level of difficulty) and provides a framework for making flow a part of your working life. If you can apply even 10% of what he teaches, I think that you’re likely to notice a big difference in how motivated you feel for work.