3 Steps to Enjoying Every Moment

What I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.” – King Solomon

How do you find enjoyment in the toil of life?

There’s no way around it. Much of life is toil.

Much of our time is taken up by the everyday stuff and struggle of life.

  • Getting up to the sound of an alarm.
  • Driving to the office.
  • Doing the same job day-in and day-out.
  • Doing the dishes.
  • Getting through emails.
  • Brushing your teeth.
  • Cleaning the apartment.
  • Paying the bills.
  • Preparing tax documents.

And the list goes on.

Repetitive. Burdensome. Toil.

But does it have to be?

For me, it used to be that these details, the toil of life, were suffocating and daunting. I would wake up exhausted because it all seemed too much.

Little by little though, I’ve been learning to enjoy the toil of life. And here’s a little secret that I’ve uncovered:

if you enjoy the toil, it’s not really toil anymore.

All of a sudden, all of life can be enjoyed- every moment.

Really, then, toil is in the heart.

It’s not as much about what we are doing as it is about what is going on inside of us while we are doing it.

So, again, how do we enjoy the toil of life?

1. Expect enjoyment.

According to king Solomon, it’s not just good but it’s fitting to find enjoyment.

That means, like your favorite pair of jeans, enjoyment fits you well. You were meant to enjoy life.

Stop settling for less and convincing yourself that you can’t be happy with life- even the toilsome parts.

It’s a matter of expectations.

Expect the worst, and you’ll get it. Expect enjoyment, and you’ll find that it fits you well.

For a period time, I expected the worst, worried about the future, and felt resigned to frustration. Those thought patterns got ingrained and soon discontentment felt like it fit me better than enjoyment.

I needed to retrain my thought patterns to embrace enjoyment.

Notice that King Solomon refers to finding enjoyment. It’s an active process.

Like weight lifting, it’s difficult at first. But it gets easier, and the results are undeniable.

Here’s a simple method that works.

When a negative, anxious, or destructive thought pops into your head, try the following:

  • Take a breath
  • Remind yourself that you are made for enjoyment
  • Think a thought of gratitude (for anything you want)

I know it sounds hokey, but just try it.

When writing this post, my computer crashed on me and I lost my work. Perfect opportunity to practice finding enjoyment in the toil of life :) .

Here’s the sequence:

  • Document crashes, work is lost
  • I sense frustration coming on
  • Deep breath
  • “I’m made for enjoyment”
  • “I’m grateful to be writing about a topic that I love for readers who care”

Yes, I had to go through the toil of re-doing some work.

However, I got to practice the very thing that I was writing about. And I got the perfect illustration to my point.

It wasn’t a setback. It was a gift.

2. Number your days.

When we’re bored with the toil of life, it’s easy lull ourselves into the faulty belief that life will drag along forever.

Unfortunately, our days are actually few.

There is a real possibility that we’ll slog through life only to find out that it’s over and then want those days back.

I came across a blog 17,000 Days, where the author did a calculation of how many remaining days she has to live based on average life expectancy rates.

It’s a little morbid, but it’s also pretty powerful.

I did my calculation and I have 16,875 days.

The point is not to scare you into a panic- though I am freaking out right now!

The point is to remind you that you don’t have time to waste on frustration and anxiety.

You were made for enjoyment. Spend your days finding it- even in the toil.

(Instructions for finding your expiration date here.)

3. Simplify.

The picture that Solomon paints is one of a simple person doing simple things like eating, drinking, and working under the sun.

This is his lot.

Our lives are very different.

We are rushed and hurried people with no time for a leisurely meal. Instead of regular and festive drinking with friends, we spend time glued to social media. And we work inside, in front of a computer.

Perhaps, we are so stressed because the lives that we are living are not our lot.

Perhaps, we were designed for a simpler existence- an existence with less hurry, less distraction, and more space to find enjoyment.

No, I’m not contending that everyone ditch technology and work outside. (I’m blogging right now :) .)

I am suggesting though that we stop muddying our lives with complexity and waste.

It’s one thing to find joy in the toil of life. It’s another to create needless toil.

Want to rid yourself of that haunting feeling that you are incredibly busy and yet woefully unproductive?

Simplify.

Here are some quick ways to simplify your life:

  • turn off the internet while you are doing focused work
  • clean off your physical desktop and declare it a clutter free zone
  • clean off your digital desktop and store your documents in dropbox or work in google docs
  • have less stuff; go through your closet, take everything that you don’t use and give it to Goodwill

Question: What are the areas of your life that are most toilsome? What does it take for you to enjoy that toil or simplify your way out of it?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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10 thoughts on “3 Steps to Enjoying Every Moment

  1. My mother recently sent this interview/article to me as a talking point. It offers an interesting perspective on “unplugging” for a while. http://goo.gl/W8Dst For me, it was an opportunity to reflect. While that article focuses on social media, I understood it to be a wider phenomenon, like you mentioned: our ever more toilsome lives. It’s great to enjoy what you do, and do it all the time because you enjoy it, but it’s also nice to just unwind sometimes (complete oversimplification).

  2. On the simplify tip – one thing that has made me breathe easier while working: getting rid of all those dang tabs I have open.

    If it’s really important enough to read/fill out/act on, I will go looking for it later. If it’s not, and I haven’t read it already, get rid of it.

    Double true for my gmail tab, when you’re focusing, CLOSE IT.

  3. For me the most toilsome area is any kind of “busy work”. I get around it by creating an environment I enjoy, for example, if I need to do the dishes I’ll listen to NPR while I do it or put on music I enjoy while I write.

    Also, having less stuff is such an important one. I can’t tell you the amount of stress I’ve relieved by downsizing my life. Over the past year I’ve donated or sold the majority of my possessions and it’s given me a renewed sense of focus and made me appreciate what I have even more.

    • I think that that warrants a post!

      One quick tip for folks who check email on an iphone: I take my mail app/icon out of the doc, turn alerts off, and put it on the second page with other apps (ie not on my home screen).

      This allows me to not be constantly reminded of new emails. I need to actively go and check on my phone to find new email.

  4. Love the post! Yeuh! Remember – you have a limited amount of time. Its the only commodity you can’t acquire more of. Live it up!