How To Enjoy: The Good, Bad And Ugly


Relationships are fraught with trouble. Relationships are fragile. The terrain is complicated. In any given situation, where one person reacts with rage another is sad; where one is amused, another is confused. You might think you know how someone will react, but you never know. You can’t see what goes on in another’s head. People are unpredictable.

In a conflict, one person’s solution might be to accommodate while another’s is to attack (or withdraw). Few people master the art of human relationship. Philosophers and poets have their explanations.

SarteJean Paul Sarte, a philosopher, said in a play (No Exit1944) that,  “hell is other people.” He might mean that our freedom is deprived because we are trapped by our need for respect and adulation from others. He might argue that until a person learns that he or she alone is responsible for his or her own behaviour, he or she will remain in hell and people who say they don’t care what other people think of them are probably lying.

MiltonJohn Milton, a poet, said, The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” (Paradise Lost1667). He might mean that what we enjoy is heaven in this life and what is distressing is hell. We think ourselves into the states we’re in. If one can focus one’s mind on good stuff in spite of the sorrows and difficulties, one could experience heavenly bliss in this life. People who are always sad and dissatisfied (even the rich and healthy) can’t experience true bliss.

Both of these thinkers – philosopher and poet – might agree that happiness and sorrow depend on how we think. A happy mind can make surroundings seem heavenly and an unhappy mind can make surroundings seem hellish. As one thinks, so one feels. The trick, therefore, to living in a heaven or a hell in this life is in the way we manage our thoughts and emotions, but what is a thought?

A thought is like an invisible bubble. A thought is like that song, I’m forever blowing bubbles which goes: “I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air, they fly so high, nearly reach the sky, but then like my dreams they fade and die” (Jaan Kenbrovin, 1918). Fortune eludes the singer, but therein lies its beauty – it’s resonance. We all know the feeling that you can’t always get what you want (and, rightly so).

balloonPeople speak of being in high spirits and low spirits depending on mood. A mood is coloured by thought. Think angry thoughts, see red; think sad thoughts, get the blues. Think envy, go green. Mandatory happiness is phoney. To enjoy life is to feel all the colours without necessarily acting on them. You’ve got to go with it and get what you need.

In each person there is a secret self, not in any mystical sense, but in the sense of a hidden self inside each of us. One person might understand another, but no one can fully experience the thoughts and feelings of another. You might understand someone’s pain, but you can’t feel it yourself.

On a cold winter’s morning in the midst of a deep-freeze it is a challenge to enjoy. When someone we love dies, that too, is a challenge. To enjoy again despite the pain is to hear a sad song and enjoy a good cry. To feel the bad is to feel future good. Take courage! Bring it on home. Enjoy the ups and the downs in equal measure. You can’t have one without the other.

As a philosopher of enjoyment, you will get the blues and gain the strength to say, “Bring it on!” To enjoy suffering like a philosopher-poet is a challenge for the enjoyer of living.

pantherThere are tricks you can use. Notice how the face of ecstasy looks similar to the face of pain. Grin yourself through the pain and smile at the good as much as you can. Get the blues and feel a special kind of confidence that only you yourself can possess.

If you cultivate in your soul the genius of loneliness, you’re not just a human: you’re a sturdy tree, you’re a patient toad, you’re a crafty panther. Imagine how you will feel and and you will.

Will yourself to feel what you will.

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A Philosopher of Enjoyment.

2 thoughts on “How To Enjoy: The Good, Bad And Ugly”

  1. I wonder about emotions a lot. Physical hardships I can understand being cold, wet, hungry, thirsty, hot, in pain are things it makes sense to react to. But anger, depression, happiness, boredom (I think this is the big one) – where do they come from? Is it just chemistry? It seems that if physical hard ships are in order then we should all be able to find contentment since we exist in the same place – between our ears. I’m not so sure there is a big difference between a throne and a kitchen chair, a Broadway play and a library book, or a Michelin meal and a can of Puritan stew but it seems that whenever I have one I dream of the other.


    1. Where does anger, depression and boredom come from (I agree, boredom is the big one)? Moods. Moods and as far as I can tell, a mood can come to me out of nowhere. It’s outside my thought processes. Today, I felt depressed. Not sure why. The wind. Maybe? It’s this feeling of my self. It’s difficult for one person to relate his or her self to another. It’s like being in a room alone. Is it just chemistry? A scientist might say it is but isn’t all “life” just a matter of chemistry? This planet began with rocks but somehow, chemistry produced life. With that in mind, Life produces moods. If you weren’t alive, you wouldn’t feel them. Moods are an opportunity to experience living. As for finding contentment, the question is why? Contentment is beautiful but it only comes when the opposite is felt. Back to polarities. Today, not content. Tomorrow, maybe? As for a puritan stew and a Michelin meal, for me, it’s equal. It is as I think it to be. It is the company one keeps. For me, it is accepting that whatever presents itself is what is presented. I love it all because not long from now, I will be dead. Everyone I know will be dead . I say this not to depress but to recognize that it’s all beautiful.

      As I say, at the moment I’m depressed – not sure why – but it is good. Later I’ll be happy. It’s the sad part of the movie that is my life. I’m enjoying this sadness. It is beautiful. I’m into it. My heart feels like it is being wrenched outside my body as I take in the beauty around me. I’m alone outside in my yard listening to sad music. Sadness is enjoyable. Even though this feeling of grief for some inexplicable reason isn’t what most people would consider enjoyable, I love it. It is my mood. There is no decision to be made. I don’t control it but I can appreciate it and work with it. I know it will pass. I’m in this mood and it is good. It is bad, but it is good-bad like an old love song from the Bee Gees.

      I’m typing this response as I listen to Leonard sing about his absent mare. If you want what you don’t have, that is beautiful too. Dream of what you don’t have and you have something to hope for. I dream the moment I’m in. Sorry. This doesn’t answer any kind of question. It’s just a feeling I’m in. This is it. This blog has had no viewers for many days. There are so many other things to do in this life but… we forge ahead enjoying this body and life we each are in. It’s enjoyable because… (as lame as it sounds) it is life.


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