My new favorite word – “Autotelic”

In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention” I learned a new word that I’m obsessed with.

Here is how he relays it:

An autotelic person needs few material possessions and little entertainment, comfort, power, or fame because so much of what he or she does is already rewarding. Because such persons experience flow in work, in family life, when interacting with people, when eating, even when alone with nothing to do, they are less dependent on the external rewards that keep others motivated to go on with a life composed of routines. They are more autonomous and independent because they cannot be as easily manipulated with threats or rewards from the outside. At the same time, they are more involved with everything around them because they are fully immersed in the current of life.

Within the context of the book, he is using this word to describe creative geniuses.

While I realize I am not one of those incredible people, when I read about this state of living I can only relate. I think the autotelic way of operating should be the only way to go about things which are important to you.

I previously thought that I was an extrovert as a child and an introvert here in my recent adulthood because I love being alone so much.

But after reading this book, I feel like my previously labeled introversion might actually be this autotelic nature coming about.

It’s not that I don’t like people (which is what the uninformed believe is true of introverts), but I just really enjoy reading/writing/training for their own sake. And unfortunately, these things are less personal (and thus, less enjoyable) if I try to have other humans around while I do them.

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