Until now, we have focused almost solely on the philosophical side of the program. We believe disseminating our content in this order to be fitting and proper, as proper understanding demands the proper and accurate context. Now that we have much of that context, it is time for a post that might be categorized as more practical.
In our last post, we talked about eudaimonic well-being, enjoyment, and how purpose is the foundation of that. This week, we intend to begin the process of creating eudaimonic well-being. In this post, we will guide you through the process of identifying that which you enjoy, eudaimonically, and therefore that which facilitates your thriveilhood.
Engaging in Eudaimonia
As we endeavor to live a thriving, joyous, growing, connected life, we will spend our time in many, varied ways. What we have alluded to, if we have not said it explicitly before, is that it absolutely matters how we spend our time; what we choose to do. Our outcomes are a result of our actions. If we desire a thriving life, we must not only enjoy the actions that currently facilitate our thrivelihood, we must apply the way we enjoy to old and new actions alike.
What does that mean? It means every action we (eudaimonically) enjoy taking in life has characteristics that each of us perceives as valuable. And we all perceive different aspects of an action as valuable, which is to say, enjoyable. For example, if a group of friends go hiking together, they all might equally enjoy the activity, but each for different reasons. There are numerous reasons why one might enjoy a connected hike: feeling connected with your friends, feeling connected with the beauty and thrum of nature, the feeling of your blood coursing as you exercise, the challenge of navigating an unstable and ever-changing terrain, the feeling of the sun and the wind on your smiling face, and so on.1
While there are plenty of reasons that might seem valuable, it’s the ones that you truly connect with that are of interest to us today. Why is that? Because if we want to bring more enjoyment into our lives, we have to know what that enjoyment looks like. Once we discover what makes things enjoyable to us, we can begin to notice these same attributes in other areas of our lives, or we may choose to take on new activities that exemplify these qualities. The possibilities are endless, but the first step is awareness.
Life is a process that requires engagement to thrive. If we do not give a meaning to the actions we take, then it will be supplied for us. And while Realize Renaissance’s missions is to improve those meanings, it starts with you. All too often the meanings that people take away from new experiences are negative. If that action stands between you and your path, don’t let that happen to you. Here’s how:
Before we go on, we must share some helpful principles for doing exercises such as this! Before you start, go through these bullets. A feeling of discomfort is not uncommon if you are unfamiliar with a deep level of introspection. Return here if it will help. There are many principles that will aid in building self-awareness, ability to focus, the confidence and esteem to be vulnerable, and the courage and resilience to endure new challenge.
- Stand if you can, sit tall if you must sit. A better option is to kneel or, Jon’s favorite, squat. Motivation is depressed in poor postures.
- Take 10 deep breaths starting at the bottom of your lungs and filling them upwards, from stomach through ribs, with a tempo of 4 seconds on the in-breath, 16 second hold, 8 seconds on the out-breath. If this sort of belly breathing is new to you, don’t struggle to maintain it through the exercise. Simply come back to it and recenter when your mind begins to wander.
- Write instead of typing. We’d love for you to comment and share with feedback, results, or anything else, but it will be more beneficial for you to write out your answers to most exercises like this as it will force you to be more mindful of your answers and will help you remember the process and your results.
- Make a list of some (or all) of the actions that you value in your life. These are actions that challenge you but you meet them head on. Actions that demand you to use a skill or that you are grateful for when the opportunity to do them comes up. These include your hobbies and the parts of your job that you enjoy. Think of times when you were at your best level of performance or feeling your best. What were you doing then?234
- Now ask yourself the following question(s) about your favorite action(s):
“Why is this action so enjoyable to me? What makes it so enjoyable? What do I deeply enjoy about it, even when I’m stressed or upset?” Don’t worry if you don’t always remember to be grateful for certain things. If you value it, write it down5Repeat this process for as many actions as you want. Our recommendation is to continue doing this for each action until at least 3 enjoyment factors appear throughout various actions. Doing more analysis is to be welcomed. Life does not recognize the idea of overachievement; life will reward your commitment to knowing and honoring yourself. 6
- Write down your enjoyment factors and realize that these enjoyment factors can be applied in other ways to improve our lives! Above, we suggested considering times when you were at your best, when you felt deeply engaged, as a way of identifying important factors of your purpose. Now, brainstorm the exact opposite, activities you do that leave you feeling unengaged, disinterested, or bored.
With this list of activities or actions, brainstorm ways you can use your enjoyment factors from Step 2 to make these unengaging tasks more enjoyable. If we can deeply enjoy the parts of our life that are seemingly the most mundane, we empower ourselves to use our resources on far more challenging and therefore rewarding things, instead of the easy, albeit boring, actions that drain so many of us.7
Alternatively, making a positive shift in your life is not just about turning less enjoyable activities into more enjoyable activities. Sometimes, it’s about bringing in new, positive experiences as well. Try brainstorming a list of new activities/actions you can incorporate into your life that exemplify your enjoyment factors.
- Now that we have some enjoyment factors and some actions we want to make serve us, there are two quick steps left to be done. First, it’s time to strategize and make a plan of how to integrate your enjoyment factors into the actions you’d like to enjoy.
Write out how you can apply these enjoyment factors to each action.
- Last step: Do it. Do one of them, right now. Before you even finish reading this sentence.8
When you’re done, come back and write about your experience. How did you do? Could you make it more powerful? How? Will practicing that skill benefit you and your process? How so?
If you did this, great work! By taking the time to immerse yourself you have honored your process and empowered your brain to remember how to enjoy new things in the future, even beyond your plan here.
If you didn’t, we hope you found it insightful and that it will stick in your memory. However, if you truly wish to make a change, you will have to take part at some point.
Understanding without application will not improve lives, our own or any other.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~Marcus Aurelius
Bring a friend into your process. Taking part in a new activity with someone that shares your desire, even if they don’t share your specific purpose or why you put value into that activity, will make it more enjoyable. Connection can always add value to our growth.