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The autotelic self

What does “autotelic” mean? Literally it means “end in itself,” but what is the real meaning, if we bring it back to our lives?

In the context of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory,” someone with an autotelic self tends to appreciate life, derives a pleasure in the absence of extrinsic finality, that is, they do not worry about external rewards, they are intrinsically motivated in the activities that they carry out, and they create harmony in everything they do to achieve the optimal experience, the “State of Flow.” It doesn’t depend on what you do, but on how you do it.   

In the optimal experience, energy flows like a river, activity becomes spontaneous, automatic, at one with oneself. Activities that you carry out are in perfect balance between your skills and resources and new challenges and perspectives, thus creating inner wellbeing. It is a dynamic process with a psychological growth that prevents the threat of anxiety and stress and, vice versa, the risk of a monotonous life, boredom and apathy.   

Someone with an autotelic self, instead of weakening due to negative events, is able to develop the ability to find inner wellbeing and the state of flow regardless of external circumstances, and to transform desperate situations into new activities, through three main phases:

  1. Developing a strong, non-self-centered personality with self-belief and self-confidence.
  2. Maintaining attention on external events in the surrounding environment with an open mind that allows you to be objective and realize possible alternatives to the current situation.
  3. Focusing on possible alternatives, instead of obstacles, and discovering new solutions.  

To be autotelic you need certain characteristics, such as:

– self-awareness and therefore the ability to manage intelligence, emotions and desire

– discipline, perseverance, consistency and flexibility

– attention, the ability to intentionally focus on the experience in order to make it high quality

– the ability to make choices and decisions without excessive difficulty and anxiety.

If you develop an autotelic personality, you face adversity and threats more effectively, prevent malaise and stress and increase the quality of your life.

And what about you? What skills would you like to develop in order to create a better version of yourself, to the point of being autotelic?


Autore: Valentina Reiner

Valentina Reiner is Certified Business Coach (CBC™) by Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC), European Individual Accreditation (EIA) Coach/Mentor at Senior Practitioner Level by European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), Neuromanager Positivo Applicato (NPA®) by Apprendo Academy

Valentina Reiner
Valentina Reiner

Read Italian version


Sources:

FLOW, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly