Want to Enjoy Life More? Deepen Your Understanding of Things.

Last week I finished Hemingway's excellent novel, "The Sun Also Rises." He's become one of my favorite authors because I understand the basics of what makes his writing powerful, unique, and beautiful. I was able to develop this understanding simply by reading another one of his books, "A Moveable Feast." There, he laid out his approach to writing. When he was first developing his style, he was inspired by the impressionist paintings at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. He liked how these painters - Cezanne in particular - didn't focus on trying to capture every detail but instead formed an impression of a place or a moment. His goal was to do the same thing with writing. So he decided to focus on writing "one true sentence" at a time and was able to turn his simple descriptions into powerful experiences for the reader.

Before I understood what Hemingway was doing I didn't appreciate his work as much. The lesson for me is that a deeper understanding of something promotes a much greater level of satisfaction. I've seen similar messages in the Tiger Mom's emphasis on hard work leading to true freedom and mastery. Similarly, Cal Newport lays out an excellent case on why skill-building, rather than pursuing an ephemeral passion, is the best way to make progress and truly enjoy your career.