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Nov 7, 2007, 8:00 AM 1
what's about the game of chess that hooks kids and adults? Ask a group of chess players this question and the answers will vary from the game's qualities (complexity, geometric beauty, lack of repetiveness) to the feelings one experiences while playing (excitement, enjoyment, happiness). No doubt all of these answers, though a bit generalized, are correct. However, recent studies have shed even greater clarity on the reasons for the satisfaction that the chess players get from a well-played game. These findings, which show that the feelings are not at all unique to chess, offer a compelling explanation that could have parents and educators rethinking how they motivate young people. In a word, it's all about flow. The most famous proponent of flow theory is professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi of the University of Chicago. A psychologist who has devoted much of his life to investigating what makes people "happy," Csikszentmihalyi has written two books, which detail the results of the work of his research team. after interviewing thousands of respondents from around the globe using a method he calls experience samping, he has concluded that people who enjoy life to the fullest are not after happiness per se, but rather optimal experience, or flow. he explains use of the term: the metaphor of 'flow' is one that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out best in their lives. Athletes refer to it as 'being in the zone,' religious mystics as being in 'ecstasy,' artists and musicians as aesthetic rapture." What sorts of activities induce flow? Why is flow so important?  

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