The main thesis of Csikszentmihalyi’s flow-concept is that happiness is not a state but can be developed through learning how to achieve flow in our lives. He describes it as:
“…a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Even though there are important similarities between flow and mindfulness through the focus on the present moment, there are important differences. An important difference is that to obtain flow the activity should preferably be challenging and there should be possibilities to get more advanced/skilled over time.
For this reason, he dislikes watching TV, but prefer reading as a flow-creating activity since the challenge for the brain is larger and there are ample opportunities to choose literature with increasing complexity.
There is also a connection between flow and Freud, where flow can be seen as facilitating the development of a stronger ‘ego’, meaning self and self-confidence (not selfishness). This is the case since flow is about developing the capacity to take conscious control over the contents of our mind, for example not giving in to impulses or short-lived satisfactions, such as refraining from eating extra cookies when already full, as well as achieve mastery over external pressures, such as not giving in to all demands from important people around us.