Autotelism -that self-propelled groove

I thought that it might be interesting to explain the name of the blog to you, especially the term “autotelic” as I am sure you are all pretty much aware of the meaning of “woman”…

The word comes from the Greek αὐτοτελής autotelēs, from αὐτός autos, “self” and τέλος telos, “goal and means“having a purpose in and not apart from itself”The first time I saw the word was on a Pinterest board, never having heard it before I went and googled it. Pages and pages later I ended up reading a whole lot about a certain Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

But first in order to understand the definition of an autotelic person, you need to get “Flow”

According to positive psychologist Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly the concept of flow means being a highly  focused mental state, that you probably know best as “being in the zone”. The theory behind the Flow state is that it is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, in which the person is fully immersed in what they are doing. This is something that at times everyone has experienced, and described as having a sense of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are more often than not, ignored, as nothing else seems to matter. You yourself may have been in Flow whilst playing a sport, writing a story, playing a game…According to Csikszentmihalyi certain people with very specific personality traits may achieve Flow more often than average. These people are said to have an autotelic personality.

Now that links us nicely in to autotelism !

Have you ever found yourself being totally absorbed and really enjoying a “mundane” activity such as tidying your closet? Sorting your book shelves? If you have you might have an autotelic personality, as this trait is possessed by individuals who can learn to enjoy situations that most other people would find miserable. I have been labelled a bit of a weirdo for zoning out and enjoying untying bundles of tiny knots in necklace chains… Each to their own ! Another characteristic of such a personality is what drives you, being internally driven, and exhibiting a sense of purpose and curiosity. The opposite of this would be to be externally driven, in which case things such as comfort, money, power, or fame are your motivating force. Being autotelic means that you are not doing something with the expectation of a future benefit, you are doing it just to experience it.

Csikszentmihalyi writes:

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.

The Flow state as aforementioned then becomes an expression of the person’s happiness, and not a desire to achieve or have happiness.To date there has not been much research on the autotelic personality, but results of the few studies that have been conducted suggest that indeed some people are more prone to experience flow than others. One study showed that such people preferred “high-action-opportunity, high-skills situations that stimulate them and encourage growth” compared to those without an autotelic personality. It is in such high-challenge, high-skills situations that people are most likely to enter the flow state. Whether you may be autotelic or not it is definitely beneficial to enter the Flow, it gives more meaning to life, makes it stronger and increases the strengths and complexity of the self.

I named this blog in such a way because it is the reason I write, I do it for the love of doing it, not because I intend to be read (even though I realize it is a possibility). I find the process so fulfilling, it is therapeutic and it helps me strengthen and define myself. Putting words to feelings and thoughts help to better understand yourself, which can only be a good thing as understanding is a step toawards acceptance.

So people, go and get in your groove !!!

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