First of all, it’s impossible.
Or is it?
One of the reasons for the human experience is to feel the full range of emotions that the human package comes with. We live in a society that doesn’t yet celebrate this fact, and to help you not feel what it means to be human, their are various pills, substances, devices, and habits that you can escape into. When in actuality, you’re feeling something even then. Might it be dullness, aching, the euphoria of escapism…it’s still feeling.
The other side of the coin of numbing our feelings is the overly positive clichés such as “life is a gift”, “enjoy every minute” and a whole host of other trite sentiments. The last one you hear a lot when it comes to motherhood and that’s especially touchy because on those days that you don’t even feel like being a human let alone a mother, someone telling you that life [childhood] goes so fast that you should enjoy it can be that straw that breaks your fragile spirit. Here’s why anyone who says “enjoy every minute of life is bullshit:
Life is not meant to be “enjoyed” every second. So back off Karen.
Life is a school, we come here to learn and polish our soul though lessons that we get through choices that we make and experiences that we chose or are even forced into. Saying that we should enjoy every minute of life is like we should have enjoyed every second of school. We should have enjoyed the bullying, the anxiety before tests, the awkwardness of fitting in, the time we were scolded by the teacher, the crush that didn’t pan out, the pressure to find out who we are and what we want to do in life before we even turned 18? No. It’s OK if you did enjoy it, but you’re likely the unicorn. The rest of us need permission to not try and live up to this unrealistic expectation that seemingly stems from this now push for positive existentialism. Or rather, the “fluffy side” of existentialism.
Going back to my above example of being a student, none of it was enjoyable every second. Learning [life] lessons can be painful, overwhelming, intimidating, nerve wracking, exhausting. Are you really able to “enjoy every minute” while in it? Do you even want to?
We can however re-frame it: What if feeling overwhelmed helps you to realize where your boundaries are or how to better organize your time, expectations and motivation. What if being intimidated pushes you to be your authentic self. What if being exhausted helps you to learn innovative ways of self care. These feelings are needed. They teach us. In that time it’s hard to “enjoy” it because discomfort usually results in change and our little reptile brain that saved us from predators in our caveman days, remains fearful of change.
Enjoyment of discomfort is rare, and often times in our lifetimes we are very uncomfortable. We may not enjoy every minute of life, but we can chose to see the discomfort as beginning of something wonderful and realize that sometimes anxiety is really excitement unrecognized. We may not enjoy every minute of life, but even in the dark feeling times we can chose to be grateful for the 1 in 10 2,685,000— odds that you are even alive. (that’s 1 in 10 with 2,685,000 zeros after it. Yeah, you’re that magical.)
As for the conclusion that I’ve drawn – there is a shit ton about life that sucks and I’m allowed to feel sucky about it without feeling worse about not “enjoying every second of this precious life.” What I do keep about me no matter what is gratitude and optimism. Those are the two habits that can be developed into character traits, and they will take you a lot further in this life then trying to force yourself to “fake it until you make it” all of the time.
Tell “Karen” that I said so.