A Better Experience of Life
Right now, you're probably seated, perhaps you've got a warm beverage or some breakfast with you, and you're reading the paper. Or you might even be viewing this article online. Are you enjoying taking a moment to read? I hope so. How often do we take the time to sit and enjoy a few minutes of peace, to just sit and relax, not toiling away at work, the honey-do list, getting the kids sorted out, or any number of other things that could be pulling our attention away from just relaxing.
Or perhaps this is just a daily habit you've had, always catching up on the latest news and events around your community. Maybe you do it without thinking, without even realizing what a pleasure, what a treat it is - or at least, what a treat it might be.
I'm starting to realize that I'm really not enjoying my life, not savouring the moments like I could be. It sort of crept up on my suddenly. I had been carving out moments to get to my local coffee shop, find myself a reasonably comfy spot to sit, and start writing madly about my latest project, The Discipline of Weight Loss. I've been trying to organize my thoughts, get them down on paper, set them straight, and be able to transmit the information to someone else in a useful manner.
At first, I was excited about the project. I'd cheerily head to the coffee shop whenever I had anything resembling a free moment. But too soon, it became a laborious chore. I'd dread heading to the coffee shop, but would feel even worse if I wasn't writing, getting my thoughts down and organized. It was a terrible place to be, and a horrible way to live.
But I'm not alone in my folly. I'm not the only one who has forgotten how to be cheerful about projects in life, how to enjoy even the simplest of things like cooking, cleaning, gardening, writing, essentially any project that involves work.
I think we all lose touch at times with the enjoyment that is life.
What crazy creatures we are, that we have to be reminded to enjoy things. But for me, it's true. I need to remember not just to rush through any experience, hotly anticipating the next, but to savour any given moment.
I've been rediscovering this lately with food. People say it all the time to those trying to lose weight: "chew slowly, enjoy your food". And the French seem to have this down-pat, based on books like "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano. Though I'm just starting to read it, I'm getting the idea: "The key? Not guilt or deprivation but learning to get the most from the things you most enjoy" reads the book's description.
French women eat chocolate, pastries, carbs. The main difference is that they take time to truly enjoy the things they eat, unlike North American women. We tend to 'shovel' instead of 'dine' in order to get on with the day, on to the next activity we have to take the kids to, or the next event we've planned for ourselves, or the next trip to the gym to burn off the additional calories we just consumed without ever really stopping to acknowledge them.
I also came across a French film about the Hermès company, maker of high-end accessories. It was a detailed look at the artisans who make their products and the processes they use, some methods left over from nearly 200 years ago when the company started out producing harnesses and bridles. After seeing the detail and hands-on work required to produce one piece, I am surprised they're not more expensive. I use to balk at the idea of such expensive goods. But I understand it now.
For those who can afford to own such a beautiful piece of mastery and artistry, Hermès is one company that really takes pride, does great work, and allows their employees to do work they love and are very skilled at.
I can't say I always feel the same about my job. But I know I love my work much more when I take the time to realize the impact I have there, the assistance I can be to people, the skill I have that makes me particularly good at my job, and the life and benefits my job affords me. When was the last time you thought to yourself how much you enjoy your job?
It's a very simple but profound shift we can make today, right now, in order to truly transform perhaps not the life we lead, but the experience we have of that life. And that has a much larger impact anyhow.
Stop reading the paper. Stop going to work. Stop eating. Stop simply getting through life.
Start enjoying life. Start savouring work. Start relishing the newspaper - I promise to keep writing articles I hope will help with this.
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