Google Doodle today commemorates the 89th birthday of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, celebrating the Hungarian-American psychologist renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to the scientific exploration of happiness and creativity.

Csíkszentmihályi is widely recognized for coining the term “flow,” which describes a mental state characterized by complete immersion in an activity. This state is linked to optimal performance and well-being, marked by intense focus, enjoyment, and a sense of fulfillment.

Early Life: Born on this day in 1934 in Italy, which was then part of Imperial Italy, Csíkszentmihályi’s early life was shaped by financial hardships caused by World War II. He had to discontinue his education to support his family. The profound suffering he witnessed during the war ignited his determination to unravel the science of happiness. His journey led him through the realms of art, philosophy, and religion until he chanced upon a lecture by Carl Jung. Jung discussed the post-war traumatized psyches of Europeans and how their mental states led them to project UFO sightings into the sky.

Education: At the age of 22, he relocated to the United States to pursue psychology studies at the University of Chicago. His fascination with the concept of “flow” deepened during his graduate studies, as he observed artists so engrossed in their creative endeavors that they lost track of time, neglecting basic survival needs like food, water, and sleep. Many artists described this experience as akin to being carried by a current of water, giving rise to the term “flow state.”

In 1965, he earned a PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology. In 1990, Csíkszentmihályi authored the influential book titled ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,’ a work translated into over 20 languages.

Csíkszentmihályi assumed the role of Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University, where he co-founded and co-directed the Quality of Life Research Center. His contributions were widely acknowledged, and he received numerous prestigious awards, including the Clifton Strengths Prize and the Széchenyi Prize. Csíkszentmihályi was also recognized as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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