Enjoy Life

I distinctly remember this anecdote from Stephen Covey that I read many years ago. 

At a workshop, a troubled participant approached him and confided that he and his wife weren't in love anymore. He desperately needed help to save his marriage. 

Stephen Covey's advice was simple: 

"Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love, the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her."

Covey's reframe is powerful. He changed love from something that just happens to people to something they can deliberately do. 

I think the same advice applies to the universal goal and challenge of enjoying life.

If you want your life to be more enjoyable, you must enjoy life. 

Enjoy is a verb. It's a choice, a mindset, and a way of living, thinking, and acting. 

In fact, the word enjoy originates from the French word "enjoier", which means "to give joy" or "to take delight in". It is a set of actions, not a result. 

For example, you can choose to: 

  • Be grateful and appreciative of everything good rather than be woeful about what isn't. 
  • Deal with challenges with boldness, cheerfulness, optimism, curiosity, and a growth mindset rather than with fear, cynicism, judgment, or pessimism. 
  • Do more of what you enjoy and enjoy more of what you do, rather than be miserable and powerless.
  • Go with the flow, explore, play, and make friends, rather than being bogged down by ego, attachments, greed, seriousness, and the resulting struggles. 
  • View life as a mysterious, fascinating, and fleeting improv that you get to enjoy, rather than being bogged down by rigid and made-up expectations of successes and failures; good and bad. 

Yes, it may seem easier said than done. But it is definitely possible. 

Ups and downs in both life and our experiences and emotions are inevitable.

But with regular practice, you can develop presence and lucidity that helps you create "the space between stimulus and response" that the psychologist Viktor Frankl famously discovered even during his unimaginably hard experience at a concentration camp. 

And in that space, instead of being reactive, you can choose to interpret, think, act, and behave in ways that help you be at ease and/or enjoy. 

I have reflected more in my related post "Mostly Peaceful, Often Joyful, Sometimes Upset" and in "The Four Roots of Unhappiness"


1. I like Naval Ravikant's quote: "Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion." When you are mostly at peace, you open yourself to experiencing moments of joy. You don't have to feel compelled to be joyful every moment...just at ease and at peace.