Chapter

Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology

pp 227-238

Date:

Flow

  • Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiAffiliated withDivision of Behavioral & Organizational Science, Claremont Graduate University Email author 
  • , Sami AbuhamdehAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Istanbul Şehir University
  • , Jeanne NakamuraAffiliated withThe University of Chicago

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Abstract

What makes people want to go on with the effort required from life? Every epistemology of behavior must sooner or later cope with this basic question. The question is not so mysterious for nonhuman organisms, which presumably have built-in genetic programs instructing them to live as long as their physical machinery is able to function. But our species has a choice: With the development of consciousness, we have the ability to second-guess and occasionally override the instructions coded in our chromosomes. This evolutionary development has added a great deal of flexibility to the human repertoire of behaviors. But the freedom gained has its downside—too many possibilities can have a paralyzing effect on action (Schwartz 2000). Among the options we are able to entertain is that of ending our lives; thus, as the existential philosophers remarked, the question of why one should not commit suicide is fundamental to the understanding of human life.