How to Enjoy Things

(Part of the Art of Learning series.)

During the Q&A this year (November, 2023), I mentioned the Bill Evans documentary that I showed last year. This is it:

Clip from the “Universal Mind of Bill Evans”

And here is the 2022 talk. (I did not record the 2023 talk.)

Video of November 9, 2022 talk

Being good at something means knowing how to enjoy it. It would be tragic if you graduated from your program with excellent grades but no love for the subject you have spent years learning to master. In this talk, I go through a few simple strategies to help you experience the pleasure of learning and remember the satisfaction that school also provides.

I decided to organize the talk on a sort of timeline. Looking back on your past, try to find satisfaction in the process. In the present, try to find pleasure in the moment, and looking ahead, to the future, be confident about your career. None of this is easy; these are habits of mind (and heart) you form through deliberate practice. But you will not regret the effort if you succeed. If you’re working in a way that is making you increasingly frustrated with the process, or casuing you suffering in the moment, or shaking your confidence about your career, then it’s time to rethink your approach, adjust your attitude. This is not what school is meant to feel like.

In the Q&A (not recorded), I had occasion to say that if you don’t like school it’s probably because you’re giving yourself too much or too little time for you tasks, or you are imagining your peers as less likable than they might well be. It’s all about “apportioning the moment” and alternating between “the arts” — reading, writing, talking, listening, and thinking. Work from the center of your strength. And take some long walks. Finally, remember the wise words of Cyril Connolly: “there is no happiness except through freedom from Angst and only creative work, communion with nature, and helping others are anxiety-free.” Seek out these simple opportunities to be free from worry on a regular basis. Happy learning!

See also “How to Keep it Simple and Real”, “The Process and the Moment”, “The Pleasures of School”, “Discipline Zero”, “Competence & Competition”, “Enjoy the Company”.

And here’s a writing exercise you might enjoy: “Where to Find It”