Exotelic v. Autotelic

In our modern society, capitalism needs people who cooperate smoothly and in large numbers. It needs people who feel free and independent, yet are willing to fit into the social machine without friction; What is the outcome? The modern man has been transformed into a commodity.

As a result of this transformation, people tend to approach life in a mechanical fashion too: wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat.

In the monotony, we lose our sense of curiosity, our desire for novelty, and our pursuit for individuality. Today, ‘having fun’ consists of consuming commodities for momentary bliss and attempting to call it a fulfilled life.

So, at the end, when we look back to see who we became and what we achieved, we taste dissatisfaction.

I don’t claim to have the answer to living a meaningful life, but I do know that the way we have been told to approach it (get a degree, get a job, climb the corporate ladder) isn’t the complete answer.

We need to strive for a balance between the exotelic demands we face and the autotelic adventures we crave. But how?

For me, the first step was understanding the importance of simple pleasures. I find incredible intrinsic happiness in life’s simple moments: going for a drive along the coast, sipping on a hot cup of tea, reading at cafes, exploring a new city.

Life can be consuming, so I found ways to recharge myself; I recommend you the same.

Whatever works for you: do it. But take that moment to step away from the consistent demands of life and live in the moment.

My inspiration to synthesis this piece came from my readings of Erich Fromm’s Book: The Art of Loving & Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Book: Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention and of course my own personal life.

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