What is Life's Greatest Pleasure?

“A genius at enjoying myself.”  That’s one description I give when I’m asked to provide a short self-profile for social media. “It’s creepy for you to describe yourself as a genius,” my wife protests—but I ignore her (on this one point, at least).

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a fun-loving person, and I’ve found new ways to have fun as I’ve gone through life. In my twenties, it was clubbing every night. In my thirties, I spent every spare moment playing with my children. In my forties, I discovered the joys of snowboarding, competitive swimming and the game Go. Since turning fifty, I’ve taken up mountain hiking.

I divide enjoyment into three categories.


First there is the hedonistic, fleeting kind of pleasure. In my case, that means going drinking with my friends, dancing at clubs, and staying out all night. The most striking thing about this sort of fun is… that you usually regret it the next day and sink into self-disgust. “Ugh! Why did I drink so much? Oh, I really lost control of myself. Did I really spend all that money?” This kind of enjoyment never lasts long.


Next is the enjoyment that comes from getting to know people by hosting parties and events and attending dinners and seminars. Networking of this kind is essential to human beings as “social animals.” Besides, none of us can achieve anything by ourselves, so we need to broaden our networks and make friends with people with different areas of expertise. Getting to know new people in this way can be very productive. If, however, you only socialize with a view to economic advantage, you’ll quickly wear yourself out.


Learning new things—and feeling yourself grow as a person—is the third category of enjoyment. For me, that’s meant things like learning to be a good leader, learning to connect with people, learning to be an effective public speaker, and mastering all the latest technology.

You can acquire this skillset in one neat package by getting an MBA. Still, I don’t think learning should be restricted to knowledge alone. Learning also has spiritual, technical and physical sides that will help you grow.

On the physical side, I make a point of going swimming three times a week to improve my lap times. My ultimate goal is to set a world record in an upper-age band for the 200-meter individual medley. When it comes to mastering technique, I’m working on improving my rank in the game of Go by studying how the professionals play. On the spiritual side, I study Western philosophy at the Aspen Institute in the US, spend time in ashrams in India, and also study Eastern philosophy.

Which of these three kinds of enjoyment is the most enjoyable?  It’s learning that gives me the most pleasure. How come? I guess it’s just because I love that feeling of being able to do something today that I couldn’t do yesterday. The learning process can be tough, but growing as a person is always so much fun.

Even if I do see learning as my No. 1 source of enjoyment, I don’t feel any obligation to stay away from other kinds of fun. Sometimes I want to be hedonistic and let my hair down in a nightclub. Equally, I’m always happy to go to Davos or my own G1 conferences here at GLOBIS to widen my circle of stimulating friends.

What’s your pleasure?

Perhaps like my wife, you think it’s inappropriate for me to describe myself as “a genius” at enjoying myself. Nonetheless I hope you will share with us what gives you the most enduring pleasure in the comments section below.

(Any tips for dealing with hangovers also welcome!)


Photo by sashahaltam

Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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