There are exercises that can help you think better, faster, more clearly and then there are insights that can change your life. Autoletic thinking turns problems into challenges to be met and learned from. It is an approach that will change your life if you practice it.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, a remarkable book in which he discusses how our thinking can enhance our quality of life. He explains how a rich, strong, powerful person is no more in control of his consciousness than someone who is sickly, poor, weak, or oppressed. The difference is in whether he sees challenges as threats or as opportunities for action.
What he calls the autotelic self refers to someone who has the ability to translate potential threats into enjoyable challenges, and thus has an internal balance. The term autotelic self means a person who has self- contained goals. For most people, goals are shaped by biological needs and social conventions – things which are outside the self. The difference is that the autotelic self, or the person who is capable of defining things for himself, is also capable of transforming threats into non-threatening challenges. This can be done with a simple change of perspective, a shift in consciousness: that is, seeing a threat as a challenge that you can overcome. Once you can do that, the steps are simple:
This approach to thinking can mean the difference between living life in fear or living life in joy. Developing autotelic thinking will give you the ability to transform random events into learning experiences that eventually result in success. Life is change - by definition and for everyone. Seeing that as a challenge to be accepted, enjoyed, and built on is the “secret” to successful living.