When was the last time you took a moment to simply enjoy life? And I’m not talking about a vacation (let’s face it: sometimes those can be just as stressful as work!).
I’m talking about finding a moment in your day to do something that’s pure pleasure. Or slowing down and finding enjoyment in an activity you normally do without thinking (like walking, eating, playing with your pet). It’s so easy to go through life on auto-pilot or forget that life is about experiencing joy and pleasure.
I thought I was doing a pretty good job of finding enjoyment in my own life. I have more boundaries than in the past, I give myself a yearly sabbatical every January, and I’ve done a lot of work to reconnect to life force energies that are all about living and having fun. But there’s always something more to discover and learn, isn’t there?
Finding a New Perspective
I recently took a trip back to the Mediterranean, somewhere that’s special to me. Since I was born in Italy and spent a lot of time in Tunisia during my childhood and adult years, this trip felt like a true homecoming. But it wasn’t just a trip down memory lane; it was a profound reconnection with a cultural way of being that is so different from the U.S., one that emphasizes enjoyment over hustle.
Since I’ve lived in the U.S. for so long, you could say I experienced a bit of culture shock!
My first day in Italy, I was struck by how much everyone around me was savoring life’s simple pleasures. People weren’t just existing; they were living. Whether it was a simple slice of tomato sprinkled with salt or friends gathering for an unhurried afternoon drink, there was a deep-rooted appreciation for the present moment. And it wasn’t about indulgence; it was about the sensual pleasures of life, the ones that deeply engage us and make us feel alive.
This aspect of Mediterranean culture truly resonated with me.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: “Wasn’t it just because you were on vacation?” Not at all! Yes, I was enjoying my vacation, but I’ve vacationed in other places and haven’t felt such a relaxed atmosphere where everyone is focused so much on pleasure.
Something profound struck me: enjoyment isn’t about escapism and it’s not something separate from our everyday lives. Enjoyment means committing to our well-being and finding moments of simple pleasure in everything we do. It’s not reserved for special occasions but woven into the fabric of each moment.
Of course, I’m not trying to glamorize things! People in the mediterranean (and in all parts of the world) have their own problems and difficulties. My main point is that they take a different perspective than U.S culture. When they think of relaxing and living life, it’s not limited to once a year or one day a week. They have the mindset of, “How much can I enjoy sitting on this park bench, looking at the view, taking the time to connect with others, and savoring good food?”
Also, enjoyment doesn’t mean the absence of work. In the Mediterranean, people work, but there’s a balance. Instead of making work the only things in their lives, shops close for a few hours in the afternoon. Every day. In Italy, everyone also takes a holiday for three weeks every August and most businesses close down. How inspiring is that?
It got me thinking about our collective mindset in America. The U.S. is a nation built by immigrants, many of whom came seeking a better life. They worked hard, and that work ethic is deeply ingrained in our culture. There are a lot of positives about that, but have we swung too far in the direction of constant hustle?
Do we really want to work ourselves to the bone instead of actually living our lives?
Living life doesn’t mean not working at all, but too often, taking time to relax is seen as a bad thing. And if everyone else is hustling, you might feel the need to keep up, wondering if you’re the only one not pushing as hard. So you keep working, telling yourself you’ll take time for pleasure only on the weekend or when you schedule a vacation. This, of course, can lead to burnout (which people are struggling with more and more).
Hustle culture is prevalent, and ironically, when we’re constantly hustling, we become less productive. For myself, I find that when I’m constantly rushing and pushing my limits, I often make more mistakes and drop the ball. But when I’ve allowed myself time to rest and recover, I’m a lot more focused and organized.
Making Time for Nourishment
After spending several weeks in a place that treated enjoyment as part of life and not a hobby, when I returned home to Sedona, I felt an emptiness. When most people think of Sedona, they think of a spiritual vortex where everyone is laid-back and focused on their journeys. While that is an aspect of Sedona, people here are very driven. Once I stepped away from that for a while and then returned, the hustle culture here, the constant drive for productivity, was more pronounced.
It’s as if we all wear our busyness as a badge of honor. But at what cost?
I’ve been reflecting on this, especially as I’ve been trying to carve out more space for enjoyment in my life. I’ve started taking a whole day off each week, purposefully planning trips out in nature or relaxing with my animals on my deck. So I’m not “taking a day off” only to do chores; I’m out exploring nature or finding things that truly nourish me. And during the week, I make sure not to schedule activities every evening, whether it’s a Zoom call or even time with friends. I don’t want every night filled. Slowly, I’m learning to prioritize pleasure.
Sometimes, I feel the pressure. The scarcity mindset creeps in, making me wonder if I’ll miss out on opportunities if I don’t keep pushing. But then I remember the lessons from my recent trip. True enjoyment, the kind that replenishes the soul, requires space. It requires us to slow down, to be present, and to prioritize what truly matters—enjoying life!
As I continue on this journey, I’m challenging myself to redefine what enjoyment means. I invite you to do the same.
Take a moment to figure out what enjoyment looks like for you. Start with the question: “How do I, personally, define pleasure?”
Does it mean more cultural activities or more time in nature? Both?
More time with friends or less?
Whatever comes up for you, just remember not to put yourself in a box. What’s nourishing at one point in your life may not be as nourishing in the future. My definition of nourishment today differs from 10 years ago when I was a single mom with younger kids. Back then, it was about community, friends, and leaning on each other. Now, it’s about finding balance and savoring the small moments.
The Mediterranean reminded me that enjoyment isn’t a luxury; it’s essential. It’s as vital as clean water and organic food. So, as we navigate our busy lives, let’s remember to make room for pleasure, for rest, and for the simple joys that make life worth living.
If you’re struggling to find a direction or you just want to talk about ways to bring more enjoyment into your life, book a free 15-minute Discovery Session with me so we can chat.