What is Enjoyment?

Do people have an inherent like for something, or are we socially programmed to like the things we like? 

- Kelvin Paschal

I was having a lazy day, so I decided to take a stroll. On coming back I stopped at a shop whose attendant greeted me earlier.

"How are you doing today?" I asked her. She talked about how happy she was and I could clearly see it printed all over her face.

"What made you happy?" I asked further. She told me that she was quite happy that she was strong and in good health and that she had just finished a nutritious meal. “Many don’t have food to eat” she added.

I was indeed pleased by her reply. I don’t know how, but we ended up in a conversation about the future. She talked about how it’ll be nice to have a lot of money so that she can “enjoy her life”. She told me that this would make her happy and excited.

I stopped her and commented that just a few minutes ago, you said you were happy. What changed? She said, “You know nau. Enjoying life" I laughed and then I asked. “Does your version of enjoyment involve having things that you see with other people and having the experience they’ve had?”

She paused a bit to think about it. I didn’t get any response from her and so I continued. “Your earlier remarks made me think you had an enjoyable day, but I don’t think you see that since it’s small to you compared to the experiences you’ve seen others have”.

“That’s true,” she said.

I think as people and society in general we tend to have a template view of what it means to enjoy life. Why is it only the people who post the grand pictures or videos online that seem to be living a “full life”?

This template view of what it means to be happy or enjoy life gives us a very inaccurate metric for measuring a lot of things like success, happiness, enjoyment, fun e.t.c. To a large extent, I think this I why we only tend to optimize this metric and ignore everything else.

I think the idea of fun, enjoyment, and happiness is quite relative. I mostly don’t always feel as excited being outside and participating in the template definition of “fun”. My most fulfilling moments have come from things like;

- Having coffee or wine with a friend while we talk about random things and laugh together

- Eat with friends while I tell them about the things I’ve been working on.

- Sitting down and reading books that talk about a lot of interesting things.

You don’t necessarily have to travel the world or visit fancy places to live an enjoyable life. We shouldn’t allow our lives to be guided by these templates we die-hard to achieve or work towards.

Enjoyment is such an ambiguous word. For someone, it could mean eating a delicious cake, while for another person that might be the norm, like eating breakfast cereal. Even though we have a subjective notion of what enjoyment might mean, we still try to achieve a template notion. We tell ourselves that we’ll be truly happy if and when we start to experience certain things, eat some type of food or wear some kinds of clothes, yet we fail to realize that our life is happening right now, at this moment, every second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year, there is an experience or feeling we fail to embrace because it doesn’t fit the template definition of enjoyment.

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