The Philosophy of Enjoyment combines the sensibilities of a Walt Whitman or Leonard Cohen – poetical – with a Charlie Chaplin or Jerry Seinfeld – comical. The basic idea is to experience life sensuously (like a poet) and lightly (like a comic). Life and enjoyment are synonymous, but just because you’re alive doesn’t mean you’re enjoying it. For some people death isn’t hard: life is.
But if you practice the art of day-dreaming, even when life is hard, it’s still enjoyable. With a poet-comic sensibility, you can have ecstatic moments without having to do anything but relax, observe and chill. It’s a matter of practicing a few mental tricks.
The first trick is to focus on your senses. This goes back to earlier posts like “Getting Small: Concentrate” and “The Will To Enjoy: How to be more conscious“. Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself: What am I seeing? What’s that smell? (Is it me?) What am I hearing? tasting? touching?
Look from the periphery of your eyes. Go discreetly into a zone where you meet your surroundings. Beyond everything that you think you are, you’re still just a sensuous organic unit. People get a false sense of superiority. They let their senses get dull through lack of attention. Life becomes an abstract affair.
Look to the animals
Watch the way a dog or a cat sniffs the air (ignore how they sniff each other). Watch their ears. Watch the way a sparrow looks around and listens. Compare that to how people stare straight ahead or at electronic devices.
Go outside or look out the window. Slip out of a miserable mock-reality into a real reality of secret thoughts that only you can have. Allow yourself to day-dream about nothing in particular. You’ve had lovely sensations wafted upon you in the past. Remember those. Create those again. Feel yourself somewhere between boredom and bliss. Enjoy a thousand vague and delicious impressions.
Relish every morsel of food and drop of drink that enters your mouth. Relish every idle, dreamy and carefree thought that you have. Work so you have time for leisure. Make introversion and loneliness your strength. Make weakness your strength. Experience every nuance of country-roads, gardens, old walls, leafy lanes, wood paths and twilight harbours. Devour life and defy it to get in your way of enjoyment.
In situations with difficult people, study them from your observation post (yourself). Experiment with yourself. Imagine seeing out of their eyes. You don’t have to love them or like them, just be kind to them. Sympathize with them. Everyone’s doing their best to feel enjoyment. It’s just that some people don’t get it. They can’t laugh at themselves. Enjoyment eludes them. Help them. If you feel annoyed, ask: What’s funny about this? Look at people with a comedian’s eye – not be be mean, vulgar or glib – but to help yourself enjoy them and yourself with them.
Picture yourself as the Good Humor Ice cream man. Switch from serious to good humorous. Alter your default settings by first focusing on your senses and then tell yourself to lighten up. Do something silly. Be free. People really are quite funny especially when they’re not trying. The grand trick is to never have a single day without impressing into your memory stuff like a particular road, a specific tree, a particular treat, flights of birds, gusts of wind, interconnecting rain-rings in a puddle, hot afternoon fragrances… whatever! Don’t worry if annoying things happen. Of course they happen. Annoying things always happen. Train yourself to get beyond them and be amused by them.
Beyond your five senses, humour could be your sixth. There’s nothing unseen about it. It’s available to everyone. You can’t help seeing what you see, but you can shape how you see. Combine your Walt Whitman Song of Myself with your Charlie Chaplin A Dog’s Life.
In an annoying situation, you have two options: You can get all serious and feel ill-treated (not enjoyable) or you can be light without care. Ill-treatment is nothing to you. What do you expect? Who are you anyway? Nobody. Just another body envelope. Why not be the light? The trick is to be absolutely determined to enjoy yourself. Don’t take yourself or life too serious. You know how it will end. Force yourself to enjoy. Will it to happen. Play music that gives you a charge of courage to forge ahead. Go Buster Keaton on everybody. Sing, “Don’t Bring Me Down!” to yourself without care for who hears. Let “Enjoyment!” be your battle cry. Plunge into the experience of living. The water’s fine, even when it isn’t, and when it isn’t: It’s even better.