How to Enjoy Life?
Do you have the feeling that something’s always standing in the way between you and real happiness? It’s probably an overloaded working schedule, a dull routine, a few extra pounds you see in the mirror, or just a strange longing for something that’s always just around the corner…
People tend to focus way more on what they’re missing instead of what they have right here, right now. That perpetual strive for the past far gone, or the future far ahead keeps us detached from the present moment. And the present moment is the only real thing we can experience and enjoy.
So, should we work on changing the circumstances? Should we work on changing our perspective? Or should we do both? Here are our thoughts on how to enjoy life – both long-term and short-term.
What Makes a Person Happy in Life?
Happiness is not a concept with a clear and unproblematic explanation, to begin with. In fact, it has been the subject of hundreds of philosophical, psychological, and even physiological research dating back to the dawn of humankind.
According to Plato, only those who are moral may be truly happy in life. Later on, the Cynics believed that happiness arises from abandoning all conventional desires and living a simple life free from all possessions. In the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas wrote that true happiness could only be experienced by union with God. Finally, the 20-th century psychiatrist Viktor Frankl stated that one could be truly happy only after one understands and experiences the value of suffering in the name of something bigger than yourself.
Today, happiness is still a matter of one’s own philosophy, values, and mindset. That’s why some people who are seemingly living their best lives still feel unfulfilled, and some people who are seemingly in a bad situation still somehow manage to cherish the moment.
In a nutshell, enjoying life can arise from two fundamental factors. The first is aligning your lifestyle with your inborn values. And the second – learning how to enjoy the moment while you’re still on your way there.
What are the Seven Pleasures of Life?
Learning how to enjoy the life you have here and now is a personal journey; for different people, pleasure arises from different things. For some, it might be silently walking through a tranquil forest. For others, it might be organizing a long movie night with their best friend. And for some, it might be dancing their trouble away in a week-long music festival.
Willard Spiegelman – a professor of English and American literature, has an interesting book called “Seven Pleasures – Essays on Ordinary Happiness.” There, he distinguishes seven different types of everyday pleasures from his point of view, and these are:
- Dancing – on your own, in a large crowd, or however you like it;
- Reading – in the library, on your favorite sofa, or in your definition of a calming environment;
- Walking – in the park, on the beach, or simply through your neighborhood;
- Looking – at a leaf of grass, at the sky, or even at your favorite Netflix show;
- Listening – to your comfort playlist, to the song of the cricket, or to the voice of your loved one;
- Swimming – in the river, in the sea, or in the nearest swimming pool;
- Writing – a diary, a poem, or a short story you’d like to tell.
Indulging in these types of simple pleasures is easy and basically free. All you need to do is put conscious effort into appreciating the things you’re already doing, noticing the things that surround you, and “organizing” these little but powerful joy bringers in your daily life.
How Do You Enjoy Life with Simple Things?
General life satisfaction depends on many internal and external factors. It is indeed about having basic security, a healthy living environment, a fulfilling social and romantic life, and a job that inspires and keeps you on track with your values. But it is also about cherishing the things you have and learning to enjoy yourself even when your circumstances are far from your perception of “perfect.”
Learning how to live life happy begins with enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Some of them you already encounter every day but somehow fail to notice. Others you can easily implement into your mindful routine for life appreciation and emotional alignment. And if you need some ideas, here they come!
- Practicing gratitude is a good way to alter your perspective and increase your life satisfaction. Yes, you might be feeling mad at your child for spilling their cup of milk on the carpet. But make sure you kiss them on the forehead and feel grateful for having them late in the evening when they fall asleep.
- Practicing mindfulness is not an eastern-yoga-esoteric thing to do. It’s your effort to notice, become aware of, and let yourself be sincerely amazed by the grandeur of what surrounds you. If you raise your gaze from the pavement, you might see the crown of the trees swinging in the wind or the silver moonlight brushing the skyscrapers. And that’s beautiful, isn’t it?
- Putting yourself first is not selfishness; it’s self-care. Leave the dishes unwashed tonight and head for a walk outside. Leave the laundry alone and grab a book you’ve been planning to read for ages. Ask for help, share responsibilities with household members, and treat yourself like you would advise your child to treat themselves one day. It’s liberating!
- Taking proper rest is a must if you want your body and mind to function properly. Built-up stress and tension will take their toll, making you feel not quite yourself at some point. So – don’t use your day off to do more work. Instead, book a massage, take your ten minutes for deep muscle relaxation, and ensure you get enough sleep at night.
- Social media detox will do miracles for you, especially if your screen time counter shows more than two hours a day. After all, your handheld device can do nothing better than keep your mind occupied with things that happen elsewhere, to people you barely know and don’t even like. So, why not invest these hours into yourself instead?
- Analyzing your negative habits and thinking patterns might help in addressing them later. You can begin your journey with a professional well-being survey to get a snapshot of your current condition. After that, you can reflect on the results and do your own project for yourself – because you matter, and you matter a great deal.
At the end of the day, wanting to enjoy life is the first step towards actually enjoying it. Even your morning cup of coffee or tea can be more than just a wake-up routine. In fact, it might be your first sip of daily delight, as long as you plant that meaning into it.
How Can I Enjoy Life at Home?
If you’re a social butterfly, staying at home and doing nothing might not sound like the best day ever for you. But what if “doing nothing” turns into doing things for yourself, your environment, and your ability to enjoy your own company?
Here are a few brief ideas on how to enjoy life alone while staying home:
- Get rid of the clutter. You don’t need to compete for a neat freak show – you just have to put away possessions that take too much space and mean nothing to you. You can clean and declutter your home yourself, or you can reach out to a friend or a cleaning company if cleaning makes you nervous. What matters is the result – a home that makes you feel… At home, you know.
- Decorate it your way. If you’re into flowers and room plants – get plenty of them. If you’re into Van Gogh, buy a reproduction and hang it where you can see it. If you like scented candles, fluffy blankets, movie posters, or extra bookshelves – make sure you have them. Make your home not a place to spend the night but a place to live happily and in harmony with yourself.
- Get a pet. If that’s your thing, of course. If it is, but you’re somehow still hesitating – make the move. A purring cat or a dog that’s always there to love the time spent with you is a kind of therapy itself. It’s an extra family member that gives your home a soul. And it’s a new friend that you will love unconditionally.
- Set the atmosphere. It costs nothing to play your feel-good song list as an atmosphere while you’re home. It costs very little to put some printed pictures, dim lights, and grounding items here and there to build up the ambiance. And it pays off millions of times!
Last but not least – staying home does not necessarily mean staying in your pajamas. If you love your pajamas, that’s great. But putting on makeup, perfume, and fancy clothes can change how you feel about yourself if you need that change right now.
Wait… But Should I Enjoy Life at All Times?
Now, back to philosophy. Nowadays, social media, conventional media, lifestyle magazines, and life coaches run a perpetual race to represent absolute bliss as the ultimate goal in life. But what if you simply accept that all emotions matter, and not being okay is totally okay?
In fact, it’s a sign of good emotional health to let yourself experience your full spectrum of human feelings and sentiments. Canceling your grief, sorrow, disappointment, or occasional bad mood won’t make them go away. It will just make it harder for you to heal and move on.
Paradoxically or not, you can – in a weird way – enjoy all of your emotions, be them positive or not so positive. Because feeling it all means you’re living it all – and filtering your emotions into fake happiness means you’re numbing a large part of who you are as a human being.
So – no – being blissfully happy all the time and enjoying life like it’s your last day on Earth is not always achievable. It was never meant to be. And that’s what makes life fascinating! All you need to do is remember how to be fascinated.