Growing up in World War Two-ravaged Europe, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi saw the adults around him struggling to rebuild their lives – and often losing the will to try. He became preoccupied by a question that doesn’t trouble most kids: what makes life worth living?
Csikszentmihalyi moved from Hungary to the US to study psychology and the question that had obsessed him since childhood.
He wondered how wealth fit into the happiness equation, but the data suggested money wasn’t the answer; beyond a certain, basic threshold, increases in income hardly affected well-being. So, as he recounted in a TED talk enticingly subtitled The Secret to Happiness, he decided to explore “where in everyday life, in our normal experience, do we feel really happy?”.
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