After booking her dream holiday, Emily pushed open the door of the travel agent’s office, glanced down at her wristwatch and rushed back to work.
Later that evening she caught up with a few friends for dinner and mentioned her trip to her old school friend Amy.
“Wow – You must be so excited!” said Amy.
“ Yeah but… it’s SO far away at the moment it’s kinda a bit depressing ” replied Emily.
To make sure that she didn’t get disheartened by the fact that her trip was still six months away, Emily made a conscious effort to put it out of her mind and just focus on her work.
The only problem with this approach was that it worked a little too well!
Two weeks before her trip, Emily bumped into Amy at the supermarket.
“So are you looking forward to your big adventure?” asked Amy.
“Yeah but… I’ve got SO much to do before I go – it’s crazy!“ replied Emily.
“I’m trying to get the new girl at work up to speed, which means I’m training her most of the day and still doing a full case load myself. Then I have to finalize my accommodation, sort out my credit cards, find someone to look after my cat, redirect my mail, and I haven’t even started thinking about packing!”
Emily’s last two weeks were a hectic blur of activity that left her feeling exhausted.
But finally – she was away…
Having waited so long for her trip, Emily was determined that she wasn’t going to miss anything. During her flight, she created a long list of things to see and do in each city she was visiting.
When she reached her first port of call, she was a woman on a mission.
Each morning she checked her list over breakfast and then got started. When she arrived at an attraction, she took lots of photos, had a quick look around and then immediately moved on to the next item on her list.
If she got delayed or wasn’t able to tick off everything on her list, Emily became frustrated by the interruption to her tight schedule.
By the end of her trip, Emily had crossed off almost every item on her list and taken over 800 photos, but she couldn’t help feel as though something was missing.
Emily felt as though she’d been on a sightseeing rollercoaster and now suddenly the ride was over and it was time to return to her normal life.
She had hoped that she’d feel rested and reenergised by her holiday, but instead she felt tired and grumpy.
When she returned to work and people asked about her trip, Emily replied that it had been fantastic and showed off some of her photos of famous landmarks. But somehow these landmarks already seemed like a distant dream.
That night, Emily lay in bed and tried to figure out why she was feeling so low. She’d just been on her dream holiday – why did she feel so frustrated and empty – what had she missed?
What Emily had missed on her holiday was an understanding of what creates true enjoyment in life. As this story illustrates, we can often get so caught up in our desire to record and capture our experiences that we forget to actually LIVE those experiences.
To help you avoid this trap, here is a simple but powerful three-part ‘Recipe for Enjoyment’ that can make a profound impact on the way you see and appreciate the world around you.
Ingredient #1: Embrace the thrill of anticipation
The first ingredient in the Recipe for Enjoyment is to embrace the thrill of anticipation. Instead of blocking things out of your mind, take the time to explore, investigate and anticipate upcoming events.
For example, instead of ignoring her trip for 5 months, Emily could have read about the culture and history of the places she was going to visit. This would have greatly increased her sense of anticipation and given her a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the attractions she was visiting.
Ingredient #2: Take time to stop and enjoy the moment
The second ingredient in the Recipe for Enjoyment is to always take time to stop, and just enjoy the moment. For example, Emily would have had a very different holiday if she had put her camera away for a few days, slowed down and really connected with the people and places she was visiting.
Ingredient #3: Reminisce about your experiences
When we reminisce, talk and write about our experiences we reinforce the neural pathways in our mind associated with those experiences and make them more vivid and real. Over time, this process of active reminiscing helps us to create fond memories that can last a lifetime.
For example, if Emily took her best photos and loaded them into a digital photo frame, they would continually remind her of her trip.
Additionally she could take the time to write an account of her trip while it is still fresh in her mind. In years to come, this travel diary would become more and more valuable and would help her to develop fond memories that she could treasure forever.
This Recipe for Enjoyment is not however limited to major events such as overseas holidays. It can also be used to improve your enjoyment of simple day-to-day events.
For example, imagine for a moment that your daughter’s first ballet recital was coming up in two weeks.
Here’s how you might use the Recipe for Enjoyment to increase your whole family’s level of enjoyment of the event.
Embrace the thrill of anticipation
To increase the level of anticipation of your daughter’s ballet performance, perhaps you could hire a dvd of a ballet and watch it together as a family.
You could then talk about how exciting it would be to be a performer on stage in front of an appreciative audience.
If you are positive and genuinely excited about the event, your anticipation will become infectious and your daughter’s dance concert will be a much more significant family event.
Take time to stop and enjoy the moment
When you arrive at your daughter’s concert, instead of watching the entire event through the viewfinder of a camera, you could take a few shots before the performance and then put your camera away and really be present in the moment.
It is often when we stop and reflect in a quiet moment that we create a memory that lasts a lifetime.
Reminisce about your experiences
After the ballet recital you might stop off at a diner and chat about the performance and how your daughter felt about it.
Later in the week you could invite grandma and grandpa over to watch the DVD of the recital. You could also print out one of the photos you took and have it framed.
Each of these actions will help both you and your daughter to reminisce about the event and solidify happy memories that can last forever.
As this example demonstrates, by following the Recipe for Enjoyment you can triple your enjoyment of any event in your life.
First you enjoy the anticipation of the event.
Then you take time to stop and enjoy the event itself.
And finally you enjoy reminiscing about the event.
So today I’d like to encourage you to use this simple recipe in your own life for both major and minor events, because when you increase your enjoyment of the events in your life, you increase your enjoyment of life itself.
Until next time,
Dare To Dream!