[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Today’s model is simple. It helps you enjoy things more.
I’m going to state it very simply about something I like a lot, but it generalizes to everything in life that you like. And the more you use it to enjoy things more, the more you bring things into your life you enjoy. And you can use it with emotions other than joy. Anything you like.
I find the model works especially well in improving relationships. I’ll explain why in a second.
A model for enjoying things more and having more of them in your life: Mangoes taste better when you pay attention while eating them.
You’ll eat food that tastes good whether you pay attention to it or not. But if you don’t pay attention, you can easily eat delicious food and not get joy. Or you could eat crappy food without stopping yourself.
Since doing the three raisins exercise, also known as the best exercise I know to raise awareness, I take a moment in most meals to focus my attention on at least a few bites to get the most enjoyment I can from it. Since I normally eat food I like, that’s extra joy and pleasure that costs nothing.
It helps motivate eating slower and choosing food with more complex and interesting flavors, like fresh fruits and vegetables.
But please don’t think I’m only talking about food.
Relationships are another place I apply this model. For example, during one of my start-ups, the other co-founder and I would sometimes argue. After a few arguments, we learned each other’s style to where we could pick up the patterns and could jump to resolving things without animosity. We decided to mark instances of coming up with great solutions without the rigmarole of arguing with a beer.
Instead of just solving problems better, we decided to relish the progress we’d made by making special note of it.
As a result, I applied what I learned to all my other relationships too. I found ways of communicating formerly argumentative points without arguing.
It works professionally too, especially with teams you lead. Most leaders and managers spend more time and attention focusing on problems. Maybe circumstances merit that time and attention, but focusing on what works helps too. Giving your team members greater feelings of reward based on success will motivate creating more success.
I have people in my life I say “Hey, that went well. Let’s make sure to taste the mango” when something goes well I want to reinforce.
You can also learn from the opposite of this belief. I remember once in class an obese classmate sat down with a bunch of junk food. I remember noticing him opening a package of two peanut butter cups. I looked away for a second and when I looked back only one cup remained. I didn’t know what happened to the first because it was too fast for him to have eaten it. Then I saw him eat the second — he just threw it in his mouth and swallowed, maybe one or two chews. I’d never seen anyone eat something so fast.
More to the point, he couldn’t have gotten that much joy out of it — just the fleeting pleasure of putting something down your throat. If he paid attention to it, he could have eaten it more slowly, or might have been motivated to eat something with more flavor than just pure sweetness, and consumed less junk.
Strategy: Pay more attention to things you like
You can do this with anything you like.
When you notice something you like, note it and what about it you like, and relish that part of it.
When I use this belief
I use this belief with things I like, on my own, in a relationship, or as part of a larger team, whether they bring physical pleasure, emotional pleasure, reward, or anything else I like.
I use this belief when I want to motivate having more of what I like in my life.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces letting parts of life you like pass you by without you noticing. It replaces mechanically acting with feeling.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to enjoying life more. When you share such things with someone else, it improves the relationship.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees