Although escape and entertainment are essential to our happiness, enjoyment is part of a larger project: building a meaningful life.
More and more people come to my practice aware that they must undertake changes in the daily life of their lives and the organization of their time, and they are not capable of carrying them out. His hours are spent in fleeting hobbies. Thus, the days and years go by, drawing unsatisfied and meaningless existences, despite the fact that they experience pleasure in their leisure activities.
PLEASURE AND ENJOYMENT ARE NOT THE SAME: WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
This is the case of Óscar, a young professional athlete who is passionate about his work and to whom he regularly and systematically dedicates long hours. However, he comes to me because he cannot disconnect from television and video games in his spare time. He says he wants to spend more time with his girlfriend, to train in some aspects of his job, to have a richer social life but he is unable to find the will to do so.
We seek physical joy convinced that feeling it will provide us with the well-being that we all long for in life. Body pleasure is certainly an important component of our quality of life, but its effectiveness is overestimated today. And it is that we must differentiate between pleasure and enjoyment. A gourmet can boast of enjoying a meal, savoring it with all possible attention and awareness, discriminating the textures and sensations of the occasion. Children and their ability to concentrate and disconnect from their environment when they are immersed in learning new skills are another clear example.
Instead, pleasure is what we experience without having to invest a large amount of psychic energy, solely through the stimulation of the brain and chemical centers in charge of the task.
FLOW: WHAT DISTINGUISHES AN OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE OF ENJOYMENT
The research team of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor at the University of Claremont (USA) and author of a famous book entitled Flow (Kairós), identifies eight elements as conditioning factors of enjoyment.
- We enjoy, first of all, performing tasks that are oriented towards a clear goal; and governed by a series of rules that we know.
- Second, we need an unmistakable ability to focus on what we are doing.
- The challenge we face must require, thirdly, a certain investment of psychic energy on our part. Competitive games seem to be a clear example of this, on the condition that defeating the opponent does not prevail over the search for perfection in the game, since studies show that, in such cases, enjoyment tends to disappear.
- The immediate feedback is the fourth feature of the sense of enjoyment. Although there are activities that offer long-term results – ideal for people with a lot of patience clear and quick feedback is, in general, one of the keys to enjoying yourself.
- A great involvement by one, leaving aside other concerns and frustrations of everyday life is the fifth element.
- Knowing how to master and control the activity: the goal must be such that we believe we have the possibility of achieving it, by having the necessary skills.
- The seventh indication that we are enjoying ourselves is that the attention for ourselves disappears, since we merge with the activity that makes us enjoy.
- So, finally, as a result of the foregoing, our sense of the length of time is altered.
WHEN DO WE REALLY ENJOY THE PRESENCE OF OTHERS?
Above all these requirements, for an experience to be manifestly gratifying, an essential condition must be met, in the absence of which the best we can hope for is bodily pleasure, which, due to its biological structure, is always insufficient, incomplete, ephemeral and transitory.
I remember Monica’s case: she was deeply disappointed with herself and discouraged about her surroundings.
Among the many objectives that we identified in order to work, and thus improve the perception of his own life, was an environment of good friends that he had preserved since his adolescence, among which there were as he said “good people”. However, it had been a long time since he felt that they did not bring him anything. The encounters were limited to banal and superficial conversations, vulgar comments, and crude and bland humor.
In this type of situation there are only two possible alternatives: look for the virtues of these people and turn them into their contributions to our lives and learn from them; Or, on the contrary, without the need to totally interrupt relationships, try to complement them with other circles of people that we think are more suggestive and interesting.
And it is that, in order for them to become a source of delight and true enjoyment, we must always endow the relationships we establish with others with interest and meaning.