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Are You Autotelic?

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Have you ever experienced flow? Have you ever felt so absorbed by a task that you completely loose track of time and space? You are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. You are pulled forward by big goals, yet happy where you are now. The experience itself is so enjoyable that you will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it. It creates a feeling of growth and feeling of being lucky. You are in the flow.

Are You Autotelic?
Are You Autotelic?

Want to increase your well-being, creativity, and efficiency? If so, you might want to cultivate flow, a concept describing those moments when you’re completely absorbed in a challenging but doable task.

I am Lili, one of the co-founders of GoMasterCoach. I have to say that I feel completely in the flow when working on building up GoMasterCoach. I am completely absorbed by what I am doing. I am always happy to work at anytime of the day and sometimes night. I have found my Ikigai - a Japanese concept meaning "A Reason for Being."

Have You Found Your Ikigai?
Have You Found Your Ikigai?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the founders of positive psychology, was the first to research flow. He describes eight characteristics of flow as:

  1. Complete concentration on the task;

  2. Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback;

  3. Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down);

  4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding;

  5. Effortlessness and ease;

  6. There is a balance between challenge and skills;

  7. Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination;

  8. There is a feeling of control over the task.

Who experiences flow ?
Who experiences flow ?

Who experiences flow ?

Achieving flow is different for everyone. Autotelic personalities tend to experience more flow. Autotelic describes internally driven people with a tendency to engage in an activity for its own sake (rather than chasing some distant external goal). Autos, meaning “self,” and telos, “goal.”

Are you Autotelic?

The Autotelic personality traits include:

  • Curiosity

  • Persistence

  • Low Self-Centeredness

  • High rate of performing activities for only intrinsic reasons of doing these activities

Do you have those traits?

Being Autotelic means having a self-contained activity. The activity is done not with the expectation of some future benefit, but simply to experience it as the main goal.

How about my purpose in life ?

The experience of flow in everyday life is an important factor of well-being, creativity and self-actualization (eudaimonia). Since the experience of flow is intrinsically rewarding, you get into a fruitful virtuous circle: the more you practice flow, the more you seek to replicate these flow experiences, leading to a fully engaged and happy life.From Apathy to Flow

Apathy is a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern about something. Apathy is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation or passion. The apathetic may lack a sense of purpose, worth, or meaning in their life. They don't feel challenged at all and don't feel they have the relevant abilities.

On the contrary, the flow state is an intrinsically motivating state of consciousness characterized by simultaneous perception of high challenge and skill.

 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Model of Flow
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Model of Flow


  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Ph.D.

  • Living in Flow: The Science of Synchronicity and How Your Choices Shape Your World by Sky Nelson-Isaacs

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1 Comment

Art Marr
Art Marr
May 12, 2021

A novel procedure for developing an autotelic personality

The ideal for any scientist with a great idea is to be able to explain it in a minute, and to confirm or falsify it as quickly. The world record for this arguably goes to the English philosopher Samuel Johnson, who rejected Archbishop Berkeley’s argument that material things only exist in one’s mind by striking his foot against a large stone while proclaiming, “I refute it thusly!”

Here is a similarly novel and useful idea that can be confirmed or refuted with a proverbial swift kick, and can also be easily explained through affective neuroscience (links below).

Basic Facts:

Endogenous opioids are induced when we eat, drink, have sex, and relax. Their…

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