Originally published back in 1990, the Quality Paperback Book Club (of which I am a member) struck a deal with HarperCollins and republished this work early in 2001. Here is a quick look at the work.
Repeating everyone who has ever seen through society's thin veil, Mihaly starts out by explaining why many, many people are unhappy; pleasure has begun to rule their lives, rather than enjoyment. The reason for discontentment between episodes of pleasure, Mihaly explains, is psychic entropy. The mind, it appears, cannot process too much information from too many different sources in an accurate or dependable way. Reducing the entropy in our minds requires that we learn to concentrate more fixedly on one thing at a time. The resulting negentropic experiences will create a more focused and calm mind that is able to concentrate hard and long on many different things, but at many different times. Creating a calm mind that flows from one experience to the next is what creates enjoyment.
Throughout the book Mihaly touches on subjects as diverse as sex, work, reading, and food. Using extensive psychological research and thousands of interviews he then explains in pure psychological reasoning why it is that some people are happier more often than others. After all the examples and explanations, Mihaly outlines the psychological attributes that make up the most commonly happy people. Mihaly makes no attempt to guide you on your way to happiness, and he makes no pretenses to being a guru or leader. He does, however, explain quite simply how to change whatever it is you experience from chaotic and confusing and therefore unhappy, to ordered and lucid experiences that produce a deep seated feeling of happiness.
I think the best aspect of this book is that Mihaly never endorses any religious or philisophical order, although he does quote philosophers markedly more often than theologians . The point, he explains, is not the external experiences that a person is surrounded by. It is the internal mechanisms and processes that create enjoyment and meaning in life.
Mihaly Csikszentmihaly writes lucidly and intelligently. I will not even attempt to paraphrase the more important topics of the book, for I feel I would not be doing justice to those topics. I will suggest, however, that anyone interested in the psychological aspects of happiness pick this book up and read it.