A Reflective Look at Autotelic Experiences

Essay by manndominicaCollege, UndergraduateA, September 2014

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A Reflective Look at Autotelic Experiences

The concept of an autotelic experience is one that I lived and never really understood or could explain until reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow. How does one comprehend the constant compulsion to do something(s) which never really gave one pleasure in the first place? And yet, it is a preoccupation with that very thing that propels one to endure the strenuous drudgery of daily exercise or the inexplicable need to clean every orifice of one's dwelling with veracity and no pause until the chore is complete-the kind of compulsion that leads to a feeling of fulfillment when all is said and done. As Daniel Willey most eloquently explains, "I am fascinated at how much time we spend doing things that we don't enjoy."

` Of the most vivid of my childhood memories is the torture of Saturdays-or chore days-as my mom referred to them.

After a grueling five days of two mile treks to school on foot, lengthy school days and equally long return trips home on empty stomachs, followed by six hour study evenings, Saturdays were supposed to be a day of rest. And they were, for all of my school friends but me. Saturdays at our house were the bane of my existence, long and tiring days of uninterrupted washing at the river until every piece of laundry smelled mountain fresh and was dried and folded. One would assume that it ended there, but no. On returning home, we got to cleaning until every surface in our home shone. As a child, I remember waking up to my mother yelling that I "…better understand that this is no hotel…" and asking who did I "…think was going to clean [my] nasty room or wash [my] dirty clothes?" Like Mozart's experience in Flow,