“Your life isn’t meant to be enjoyed.“ The other day I was listening to a podcast from Jay Shetty, where he interviewed Will Smith. (I’ll add the link to the interview at the end of this article) Which are two massive inspirations to me. Until I heard this line. “Life is a school, it isn’t just meant to be enjoyed.” I was just as stunned as you were when you read the title of this article, or read the first sentence. “How could life not be enjoyed? How could the purpose of life not be to have some fun?” These were the first thoughts that popped into my mind.
I’ve always believed that life was meant to be enjoyed. And thought that one day everything I did throughout my day would just be an absolute delight. That enlightenment would mean I was one big ball of happiness constantly enjoying everything. But I am starting to understand more and more that life isn’t about enjoyment. At least not just enjoyment.
So let me explain this, and let’s dive into what life is truly about together.
Part One: The Happiness of a Candy Store
There was this comparison Jay made in the interview that stuck with me. He shared the following perspective on enjoyment.
“You see most people think life is a candy shop in which we are constantly happy, going from one pleasure to the next. When in truth life is a school, and we are continuously growing and learning and this satisfies us. Not the candy store.”
And just like most of you, I thought to myself “well I don’t know if I want to live that way. Isn’t life meant to be enjoyed?” But there was one crucial thing I missed in Jay’s comparison it’s the word “satisfaction” that changes everything. Here is why.
The candy shop is this big pleasure house, in which we can get everything we want. We can pick and choose to go from one popsicle to the next. We eat everything we want but in the process get fat, have our teeth fall out, and start to feel nauseous with every popsicle we put in our mouth. We are running after pleasure when pleasure is always a fleeting moment. The popsicles in our lives could be sex, having a lot of money, success, possessions, and even believing that we should just be happy all the time. These are fleeting pleasurable moments. Which makes us believe that life is all about them. This idea that we can always be in a state of happiness is toxic to our lives because it makes us pursue something very brief, and that quickly fades.
On the other hand, we have a comparison with the school. That life is meant to be learned from. This on the other hand sounds boring, and not fun at all. So we might want to run away from it. Trying to stay in the candy store, where everything is way more pleasurable. But this is where that one-word difference comes in. When we are in school, and start to learn and grow we will find that life becomes more satisfying. I am not talking about learning things you will never use, or don’t enjoy knowing. There is no point in learning algebra when you want to be a painter. I am talking about the things that improve your life. Like gratitude, mindfulness, passion, kindness, compassion. All the values that we know will bring our lives more value and meaning.
Learning about these makes us satisfied with life, and being satisfied with life is truly what we are after. I know the candy store looks amazing from the outside. All the colors and the delicious candy you can see through the window are very persuasive. Compare that to our regular view of a school, which is a dull box with chairs neatly placed in lines, and a teacher who doesn’t have any passion for what they are doing, simply pushing out information that we have no clue on what to do with it. It’s an easy choice if we compare the two this way. I would go to the candy store as well. But you see this is the horrible thing that schools have been showing us. Teaching us unconsciously that learning is dull and boring. Schools have never taught us the satisfaction that comes from learning new things because we were forced to learn. But learning is never something that can be forced. It’s a natural unfolding of your deepest desire, your passion together with a spark to keep growing.
This combination of a desire to grow and your passion will make you truly satisfied with life. To make this fit into the comparison it would mean that dull schools would be demolished and destroyed. No more dull teachers, no more facts that we don’t like to remember. And instead, we place a beautiful garden of flowers full of possibilities there. In which we can play and learn, and enjoy what we are doing. The garden is lush, full of colors, full of joy, and full of growth, which allows the garden to constantly expand into the further reaches of this world. Then the candy store of pleasure will not be as vibrant and persuasive anymore. It might even become dull with its artificial colors compared to the vibrant and lush colors of the garden of passion.
This is the comparison between a school and a candy store we should keep in mind. Because now you can truly understand the beauty of learning, and why life is about learning.
Part Two: The Lessons of a School
That school in the comparison I just shared with you is in fact a garden full of possibilities and beauties. That school isn’t about learning facts and figures. It isn’t about knowing algebra, or history when it doesn’t interest you. The true school of life is about learning the fundamentals of living a great and meaningful life. It’s learning about the ageless wisdom that is shared throughout the world. In religious books like the Bible, the Quran, or the Bhagavad Gita. All these may sound dull to you but the wisdom in these books is universal. They all share the same values.
Kindness, compassion, service, love, courage, peace, and gratitude. These are just a view of the values that are taught in the garden of life. Now I hope that you can see and understand that all these lessons will enrich your life. That kindness and compassion aren’t dull topics. If they are to you that’s fine, then you are not ready yet to enter this beautiful garden. You are not yet fed up with the artificial candy of pleasure served to you in the candy store. You will one day figure that out. There is no reason to force you into the garden of life where you will learn profound lessons. Forcing you in would only make it a school again, with grey walls, dull teachers, boring topics, and tightly packed hallways. No, that’s not what I am gonna do.
I want to show you the lushness of a life spent in school, spent in the garden of life. When I entered this self-taught school, in which I could learn anything I want, I became amazed by the richness and lushness of this world. I had hundreds of books on my reading list. I learned so much about myself, about my passion, about the skill of writing. None of this I would have ever learned in school, nor the candy store. The candy store would have just lured me into pursuing riches and a successful career. Where school would have just taught me to sleep on and follow what everyone else was doing, not acknowledging my own potential.
It was in the garden of life that I learned about our true potential to learn, innovate, grow, change, or improve anything we ever dream of. That is a liberating thought. That we can learn anything, and therefore become anything. If you want to be happy it isn’t through getting one after the other flavor of the popsicle in your mouth. If you truly want to be happy it is about learning the fundamentals of compassion, gratitude, kindness, passion, meaning. All these truly make you satisfied with life. Funny enough these profound lessons have been placed within us from birth. As kids we were kind, we didn’t judge anyone. We played joyously, we were grateful for everything we had. It was not until we got fed up with toys, or heard our parents and family members judge others that we learned about this pleasure-seeking.
Luckily we now are in an age where the lushness and pearls of wisdom of the garden of life are all around us, and right within our reach. We no longer need to be in some monastery or need to read boring books. We now have the internet which serves all this amazing wisdom in ways you would like to learn about them. In videos, in podcasts, in blog posts, or social media posts. This makes the exit out of School, and the candy store so much easier. It opens up tremendous possibilities in this rich garden of life. Where we can learn and grow.
And now I understand what Jay and Will were talking about…
Part Three: The Enjoyment of the Lessons
Jay and Will weren’t talking about living a dull and boring life. They weren’t talking about living a life full of misery and discontentment. They were, in fact, talking about the enjoyment that is found in learning. They were speaking about the enjoyment of growth, of finding that we have limitless potential as human beings. They were speaking about learning new passions, about serving others, about incrementally growing our happiness and contentment with life. They didn’t say we should never enjoy anything, that we can’t have that feeling of happiness we have in the candy store.
They shared the one profound wisdom, that the happiness we are hoping to find in the candy store is found in the enjoyment of seeing ourselves grow. In understanding that life itself is growth and that our way of growing is through learning. That learning new things, and growing ourselves is like water for the trees. Without it, we will wither away and live dull lives. But by embracing the beauty of learning, and therefore embracing our full potential as humans, we will bloom and flourish. Showing our gorgeous and lush green leaves to the world.
Jay and Will acknowledged the fact that we suffer, that there are gonna be troubles in our lives. But if we learn from them, and stop being ignorant and instead strive to grow from them, that life will become vibrant. That when life gives you trouble and suffering you don’t say “Why me? Why do I need to suffer?” But instead, say. “What is it that life wants to show me with this suffering? What can I learn from this? How can I transcend the suffering and troubles and use it as soil for my life to flourish?” That opens you up and makes you see that the suffering is only there for us to grow and make our lives even more beautiful.
Where I at first thought that Jay and Will were saying life was meant to be filled with suffering turned out to be completely different. It is through learning and embracing the school of life that suffering decreases and we start to live more. We start to enjoy more and be more content with ourselves, others, the world, our jobs, and the things we buy. The candy store had never been the place where we would find everlasting enjoyment of life, nor do we find it in the dull and grey schools we remember as kids. It is in the garden of life, where flowers bloom, and trees grow tall to give us shade from the always shining sunlight that we will find our true enjoyment of life. It is here, in this gorgeous garden that we will find enjoyment in the lessons we learn. It’s in this garden that I learned to say, at the end of my day, that Today I Lived! I made the most of it.
Thanks for reading dear soul. Make sure to save this, or share it with someone who you believe needs to learn about the beauty of life. If you have any suggestions, topics, questions you want me to cover send me an email at email@example.com or find me over on Instagram @today.i.lived and send me a dm. Would love to connect with you! Enjoy your day, remember that today you live! Make the most of it.
On Purpose interview with Will Smith: