30 Jun The Energy of Enjoyment: Learn to Savor Rather Than Consume Your Life!
“The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.”
— Richard Bach
“Enjoyment is an incredible energizer of the human spirit.”
— John C. Maxwell
When you learn to use the energy of enjoyment, you develop the capacity to savor what is before you. You begin to delight in whatever you’re doing, not rushing through it and on to the next activity.
Cultivating enjoyment is very much like developing a skill. It requires that we be willing to shift our focus from a mindset known as, “Just let me make it through this,” to one called, “What might I savor about this moment?” We take our view off of an imaginary future and put it on the very real present. I remember one mother, Jayne, who put it this way:
Jayne: I almost missed my daughter’s wedding last month. Yes, I was there, making most of the arrangements for this sweet gathering. We had the exact flowers she wanted for each table. We’d planned an exquisite menu with the best caterers, with hors d’oeuvres reflecting foods from India, Morocco, and the Caribbean. I could go on and on describing what we’d planned, so when I say I almost missed her wedding, I mean something very specific. I was so nervous and obsessed with getting everything perfect that I almost forgot to enjoy myself! I was creating memories of her wedding that were focused on those inevitable snafus that come with an event as important as this. That is until my daughter had the good sense to sit me down and tell me that she missed me. That I wasn’t present to her. I was too busy worrying about trivial things. And I’m grateful that she called me on how I behaved! So, I let go. I let the wedding planner do her job! I mean, we were paying her anyway! Immediately two things happened: a headache that had been there for two weeks went away! Go figure! And I let myself spend time with the immediate family, creating memories that will last forever!
The opposite of “enjoy” is “consume,” which means to guzzle, chomp through, or use up. Jayne was in danger of consuming her energy in such a way as to keep her from having delightful memories of her daughter’s wedding.
There’s another way to see this enjoy/consume contrast. For example, I have discovered that one difference between naturally slender people and people like me who have to work at it is that people who are naturally slender tend to enjoy their food. People like me who have to work at being slender tend to consume their food.
There I was with my friend who is naturally slender. It’s 2:30 on a winter afternoon in San Francisco. We’ve been seeing clients all morning and decide it’s time for a little treat. We go to a restaurant known for its desserts.
We sit down, side by side, and each of us orders a hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream. I get very intent upon watching my server approach me with my dessert. When she sets it before me, I hunker down over it, my arm protecting this dessert from would-be predators.
I guzzle down that sundae. I don’t know if it’s because I’m thinking someone is going to take it away from me; all I know is that at the end of ten minutes my sundae is gone. I push the empty dish away. Ice cream puddles on the table, chocolate fudge smears in the corners of my mouth, and I hear this little voice inside saying, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”
Meanwhile, my friend is taking these little nummy bites. She’s enjoying every morsel. She says, “ Do you notice how the dark chocolate mixes with the vanilla bean of this ice cream? And I do think those are freshly roasted almonds. And the whipped cream is real because I can taste the butterfat on the roof of my mouth.”
At the end of ten minutes, my friend pushes a half-eaten sundae away. I hear her muttering three words, which I’ve yet to comprehend when it comes to ice cream: “I’ve had enough.”
That’s good for me, you understand because I get to eat what’s left of her ice cream, too!
As I’m waddling out of this restaurant I have an epiphany. I notice that I’ve eaten three times as much as my friend, and I hardly have a memory of the event because I went through it so quickly. I consumed the dessert. She, by contrast, has eaten less but enjoyed it more. She’s satisfied and so is less likely to want something sweet again soon. Me? What hot fudge sundae? It was all a blur.
This may or may not strike you as something familiar. If it doesn’t, take “ice cream” out of the picture. You might want to consider the following, in order to have a breakthrough with your own tendencies to consume.
- For the next three days, resolve to taste everything you eat. You might find, as I did, that you’re eating less but are feeling more satisfied.
- Before you buy something you find at the market checkout counter, where many “seductively placed” items such as candies, magazines, pens, balloons, and so on reside, ask yourself: Will I really enjoy what I’m about to fling into my basket? Only buy it if the answer is “yes.”
- Look at your credit card statement each month for the next three months. Look at certain items you’ve purchased and may have forgotten about. This includes things you no longer use, such as subscriptions to specific magazines, specific vitamins, face creams, and extra tv channels. Promise to keep only the ones that you know you enjoy!
- If you’re keeping track of things for which you are grateful each day, try noticing one or two small events that you specifically enjoyed that day!
These might be small adjustments. However, they open you to a life filled with vitality and promise.
“Without the element of enjoyment, it is not worth trying to excel at anything.”
— Magnus Carlsen