How does one truly enjoy each day, particularly an “average” day. What specific causes and effects, sources and feelings, actually give you more joy of living. Here are some ideas for answering such questions.
By learning to more quickly, clearly identify the causes and effects (i.e., the feelings you experience and their sources) that impact you it becomes easier to recognize and then focus your mind on the positive ones.
Some great questions to ask yourself while trying to determine such causes/effects are:
“What would my perfect average day look like if there were no limits or consequences?”
or “What happens in my perfect average day?”
Below are some categories to ponder along with the question above. These categories should help you more clearly identify specific feelings (effects) you wish to experience along with their sources (causes). This clarity will help you start moving toward your perfect average day.
Summary of Source/Feeling Categories
Look to this day, in its brief course lie the
- pleasures of nature
(cause=some natural phenomena, effect=a feeling of pleasure)
- absorption of entertainment
(cause=an activity that holds one’s attention, effect=a feeling of involvement & sometimes on-going accomplishment )
- thrill of success
(cause= success, growth, or improvement, effect= a thrill or a shot of energy)
- warmth of friendship
(cause= demonstrations of friendship, effect= a mental feeling of warmth)
- glory of importance
(cause= being important, powerful, and free, effect=a feeling of glory)
- fit of actualization
(cause=actualizing your potential, effect:=a feeling of fit)
Descriptions of Source/Feeling Categories
the pleasures of nature
Nature provides us many pleasures, most of which are commonplace and free, simply because of the we were created. Examples include feeling warmth on a cold day, satisfying instinctual urges such as hunger & curiosity, smelling roses, playing with a cute animal, noticing a beautiful sunset, or just experiencing good health.
Each of us is built somewhat differently so start looking for those particular natural physical/mental/emotional/spiritual pleasures that happen to turn you on. Then pay more attention to them!
the involvement of entertainment
Entertainment diverts and involves us in a pleasurable ways. Fun, novelty, or curiosity are often the underlying drives. FLOW — an on-going, narrowly focused, inherently interesting absorption with and accomplishment of challenging yet doable goals — is one form of active entertainment that can be very productive.
What entertains you? Maybe it is surfing or another. Maybe it is some aspect of your work such as solving puzzles (like business problems or writing programs), sweeping the floors of a temple (like a Zen monk does), or balancing books (many good accountants actually enjoy this). If you can figure out ways to make your productive work more entertaining that would be a very practical accomplishment … and would increase your enjoyment of daily life.
thrill of success
Successfully reaching important goals is a thrill for most of us. A favorite catch phrase of one of my TV heros, Hannibal Smith of the A-Team, is “I love it when a plan comes together” along with remark “Nice!” after some stage of his plan is accomplished.
Learning to enjoy growth and improvement and to celebrate even the smallest steps along the way are good skills for enhancing everyday life. Think about how you can turn some of your daily activities into a series of small successful steps. Then look for the little jolts of joy that come with finishing each step.
warmth of friendship
Humans are social animals and thus companionship, sharing, helping, or being helped tend to generate feelings of warmth & security. Tap into these sources of happiness as much as you can.
Walking your dog (another social animal) or giving a smile to an acquaintance on the street can make you feel warmer about life if you pay attention to the value such actions bring to you too as well as to the other. Many scientific studies have shown that people with pets or with friends live longer happier lives. You can too.
glory of importance
Do everything you can to determine what is important to you and then to make it happen. Letting others decide for you (e.g., letting your parents decide you should be a doctor or lawyer) or accepting society’s values (e.g., fame and fortune) can prove disastrous in the long run if those choices don’t happen to fit your own unique inner values.
As an aside, “helping” others is instinctively important to many of us. If you can’t figure out what is important to you then looking into this approach might be a good place to start. Using your unique talents to help others can prove very profitable as well since that is the basis of many successful business ventures.
fit of actualization
Self actualization — developing one’s potential and finding a better fit with life — is at the top of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Making the most of life and making the most of one’s potential is a feeling we would all enjoy.
Keeping your own uniqueness in mind can help you find your right place and move toward more peace, joy, and harmony in life. Don’t stop looking.
* These categories are not so much answers as suggestions for important areas to consider when pondering the question “How to enjoy your day.”
* Think about ways to fill each category during your perfect day. If one remains empty, such as friendship for example, your life may never feel balanced and complete.
* Feeling – a sensation/awareness/consciousness of a physical/mental/emotional/spiritual state of being/experience. This sensation of an experience probably best recognized by saying “I am … ”
* Words can be confusing since they are just names (the map but not the territory). People will often mention a “cause” when what they are really looking for is a feeling “effect.” E.g., just getting money may not make you feel free. Nothing is wrong with naming causes when you really mean the effects of those causes but it may reduce confusion to realize what is happening.
* Emotion – that which causes motion, a feeling that motivates one to action.
* This post resulted from reading the poem Look To This Day and pondering ways to stay happy in the immediate day. The categories described are variations on “the joy of growth, the splendor of action, the glory of power” categories listed in the original poem. My categories are far less poetic but may perhaps be more useful when looking for specific cause/effect examples in your own life.
* The categories came from Six Individual Types of Happy.
* The “If there were no limitations and no consequences what would your perfect day look like?” question is attributed to Frank Kern.