Csikszentmihalyi and colleagues conducted empirical research to find out how often people experienced flow and in what activities.
What they discovered is that people are much more likely to report flow from work activities than in their leisure time. But this results in a paradoxical situation: On the job people feel skilful and challenged, and therefore feel more happy, strong, creative and satisfied. In their free time people feel that there is generally not much to do and their skills are not being used, and therefore they tend to feel more sad, weak, dull, and dissatisfied. Yet they would like to work less and spend more time in leisure?
For Csikszentmihalyi the problem with leisure is that many people spend their time in 'passive entertainment which leads nowhere'. Watching TV, for example, requires no skill and provides little challenge. This is why when watching TV most people's mood could be classified as apathetic. So in Csikszentmihalyi's view:
Mass leisure, mass culture, and even high culture when only attended to passively and for extrinsic reasons - such as a wish to flaunt one's status - are parasites of the mind. They absorb psychic energy without providing substantive strength in return. They leave us more exhausted, more disheartened than we were before.