mihaly csikszentmihalyi

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.
—  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“Not so long ago, it was acceptable to be an amateur poet or essayist. Nowadays if one does not make some money (however pitifully little) out of writing, it’s considered to be a waste of time. It’s taken as downright shameful for a man past twenty to indulge in versification unless he receives a check to show for it. And unless one has great talent, it is indeed useless to write hoping to achieve great profit or fame. But it is never a waste to write for intrinsic reasons. Writing gives the mind a disciplined means of expression. It allows one to record events and experiences so they can be easily recalled, and relived in the future. It is a way to analyze and understand experiences, a self-communication that brings order to them.”

—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

If you are interested in something, you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. Many of the things we find interesting are not so by nature, but because we took the trouble of paying attention to them.

What makes creative people different from others is complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. Having a complex personality means being able to express the full range of traits that are potentially present in the human repertoire but usually atrophy because we think that one extreme is “good,” whereas the other extreme is “bad.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

If one has failed to develop curiosity and interest in the early years, it is a good idea to acquire them now, before it is too late to improve the quality of life.
To do so is fairly easy in principle, but more difficult in practice. Yet it is sure worth trying. The first step is to develop the habit of doing whatever needs to be done with concentrated attention, with skill rather than inertia. Even the most routine tasks, like washing dishes, dressing, or mowing the lawn become more rewarding if we approach them with the care it would take to make a work of art. The next step is to transfer some psychic energy each day from tasks that we don’t like doing, or from passive leisure, into something we never did before, or something we enjoy doing but don’t do often enough because it seems too much trouble. There are literally millions of potentially interesting things in the world to see, to do, to learn about. But they don’t become actually interesting until we devote attention to them.
—  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Neither parents nor schools are very effective at teaching the young to find pleasure in the right things. Adults, themselves often deluded by infatuation with fatuous models, conspire in the deception. They make serious tasks seem dull and hard, and frivolous ones exciting and easy. Schools generally fail to teach how exciting, how mesmerizingly beautiful science or mathematics can be; they teach the routine of literature or history rather than the adventure.
—  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

We should reconcile ourselves to the fact that nothing in the world is entirely positive; every power can be misused. Love may lead to cruelty, science can create destruction, technology unchecked produces pollution. Optimal experience is a form of energy, and energy can be used either to help or to destroy. Fire warms or burns; atomic energy can generate electricity or it can obliterate the world. Energy is power, but power is only a means. The goals to which it is applied can make life either richer or more painful.

-Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi