But we don’t understand that preserving our personal autonomy does not entail only doing what benefits us in the sense of bringing us immediate pleasure and gratification.
You are personally autonomous if (upon reflection) you are fully satisfied with what you choose to do (to the extent of never having to question your decisions). If you choose to sit by the bedside of your dying grandmother, reading her favorite book to her, and you are fully satisfied with this choice despite the gravity of the situation, then you are fully autonomous — and this is so even if you would experience greater short-term pleasure being out clubbing with your friends.
Reading to your dying grandmother may not make you smile and scream in delight, but as long as you can fully identify with your choice to engage in the activity, the activity helps reinforce your personal autonomy rather than subtracting from it, which is to say that you are the author of your own actions, you recognize yourself in your actions. You are not acting out of character or taking a moral holiday, and your actions can be attributed to you, meaning your mental states do not repudiate what you are doing.