When Was the Last Time You Truly Enjoyed Yourself?


This week, we’re exploring a unique energy that can enhance our lives with a sense of gratitude and fun. It’s what I like to call the ‘Energy of Enjoyment.’  When you harness this energy consciously, you develop your capacity to savor what is before you. Life becomes more gratifying and fulfilling. This energy can lift you out of a state similar to a phenomenon called the ‘doldrums’ that sailors experience at sea. It’s a period of inactivity and stagnation when there’s no wind in the sails and, therefore, no clear way forward toward a desired goal.  In a prolonged period of doldrums, stranded sailors would grow frustrated and deeply depressed.

Have you ever found yourself in a state of ‘doldrums’? This state can sound like that famous Peggy Lee song: “Is that all there is?” It’s that “ho-hum” period in which nothing is satisfying, and you’re waiting for it just to be over.

Let’s explore the concept of ‘enjoyment’ and its opposite, ‘consumption.’ To enjoy something is to appreciate it, to savor it, to take pleasure in it. On the other hand, to consume something is to guzzle it down, to chomp through it, to use it up. I have a personal story that vividly illustrates this difference. 

But first, I have a personal observation. I’ve noticed that one key difference between naturally slim people and those who struggle with their weight is their relationship with food. Naturally slim people tend to enjoy their food, while others, like me, tend to consume it. 

There I was with my naturally slender friend. It’s 2:30 on a windy afternoon in San Francisco. We’ve been seeing clients all morning and decide it’s time for a little pick-me-up. 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, whipped cream, and a cherry. 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’m ready to consume it. 

I guzzle down that sundae.  I don’t know if it’s because I think 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 these 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 reach over and get to eat what’s left.

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 is satisfied and so is less likely to want something sweet again soon. 

Cultivating Enjoyment

Cultivating enjoyment is not just about experiencing pleasure in the moment but also about developing a skill. It requires that you be willing to shift the focus of your attention from a thought like, “I’ve got to get everything I can get quickly, or it will be gone soon” to this thought: “What am I enjoying right now?” It’s about being present in the moment and fully appreciating what is before you. For instance, you can try savoring your meals, enjoying a walk in nature, or fully engaging in a conversation with a loved one. There’s this old saying: 

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present.” 

Enjoyment gives you the gift of the present moment. For example, my friend, who enjoyed her hot fudge sundae, stayed with what was going on in front of her. She was able to discern the whole experience – the hot fudge, the vanilla bean of the ice cream, the natural whipped cream.  For me, everything went by in a blur. 

I invite you to hone your ability to enjoy your life by taking this “Enjoyment Challenge.”  Try these new strategies out, and look at what you discover about how to use this form of energy.

  • For the next three days, resolve to taste everything you eat. You may find, as I did, that you’re eating less but are more satisfied.
  • Before you buy something that you find at the market checkout counter, where many useless items reside, ask yourself the following: “Will I really enjoy what I’m about to fling into my basket?”
  • As you begin and play toward any goal, ask friends and loved ones to ask you each day what, specifically, you are enjoying about the journey.

These are minor adjustments. However, they open you to a sense that there are small “pockets of enjoyment” in your everyday experience of life. You also might discover that the “present” moment is the most delicious time, no matter what you’re doing.

Please note: you will be receiving my articles every other week from now on. In addition, I will record my “Energy of Money” podcast every other week and the “Coach Training” podcast every other week. The “Coach Training” podcast was recently recognized by FeedSpot Reader for being one of the ten best International Coaching Federation podcasts in 2024 among the thousands available!  You might want to check it out!

See you in two weeks,

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