The Autotelic Personality in Action

Do you love your job? Really, really love your job? Is it because you make a ton of money? Or, is it because you actually love doing your job? Most people will agree that the key to living a fulfilled life is finding something that you love doing just for the sake of it-- and do it a lot. If you can make a living doing this activity that you love so much you would do for free, then you are absolutely golden.

I've written about developing an autotelic personality in the past. However, it is one thing to read about it and something entirely different to see in action. As a teacher, I understand that people learn in a multitude of different ways. Many students cannot understand a concept through just visual means; they often need visual reinforcement. I was lucky enough to stumble across this short documentary a few weeks ago that is the best example of autotelism in action that I have ever seen.

All three characteristics that I've written about before, setting goals, becoming immersed in an activity, and learning to enjoy immediate experience are evident in abundance in this video. Working as a cashier at a fast food restaurant is probably not an activity that most of us would consider doing just for the sake of it. In other words, it doesn't really seem to lend itself to autotelism. However, if you can find a way to truly enjoy a job that may seem mundane, I can't help but think life becomes just a little bit more enjoyable. I mean, just watch the video. Does "the Wendy's Guy" seem like he is enjoying life?

I used to work as a "cart attendant" at a major retail store while I was in high school. Basically, my responsibility was to get the shopping carts out of the parking lot and back into the store. At first, I hated the job; it was boring. However, I started making it into a game where I would never let the number of carts in the store get below a certain level. I had something to work toward and it in turn made me a better employee. Instead of the "cart bitch" that I initially thought of myself as, I changed my mental title to "cart wrangler." I corralled the carts like a cowboy herded cattle. Every once in awhile I had to make the trek all the way across the parking lot to collect a stray and the cowboy metaphor was reinforced. The carts were sitting out in the parking lot like lost cows-- it was my job to collect them and bring them home. Sometimes I would see how many I could push at once, or sometimes I would see how quickly I could clean out one section of the parking lot. There were countless ways to make my seemingly boring job into something more interesting and even fun. Looking back, this seems incredibly lame but it really did help make the time go by faster and I think, in a small way, it shows the power of autotelism.

The "Wendy's Guy" takes this to a whole new extreme with the way he approaches his job. It almost seems like he plays his cash register like a musical instrument. It's really an amazing thing to see. I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this documentary and see if there is anything you can learn. If a fast food cashier can enjoy his job so much, is there any reason you can't find some enjoyment in your employment?