For many of us, life has been taken over by duties and goals, with occasional weekends offering relief from the treadmill of daily requirements. You can be so in tune with responsibilities that you forget the healing powers of pleasure and play. For times when you forget the restorative benefits of self-indulgence, keep this list handy.
1) Look for, expect, count on spontaneous pleasures. Savor the chocolate offered when you visit the nursing home, the warm bread fresh from the oven, the sunset you were able to sit still and enjoy all the way through, a ride to the country. If you look and listen, you will create your own pleasures from the sweet CD you heard at your favorite bookstore, the pastry sample from the bakery, the hand sewn quilt at the yard sale. What you think about and focus on is what comes and smiles at you as you sit daydreaming.
2) Ask yourself regularly, "What choice would most fulfill me right now?" or "What could make me smile or loosen up today?" For me, it might be twirling the new wind chimes in my bedroom, or a quick trip to the library, with a stop at Admiral Thriftway for their daily food samples, or a workout at the gym to remove the mental cobwebs. You might even set your alarm or timer for each hour to remind you to focus on relaxing and pleasing yourself.
3) Listen to the intuition, the urgings, the barely heard whispers that prompt you toward making homemade soup, inviting a friend to share tea, slipping into a hot bath, picking up a picnic lunch from the deli. You probably listen very well to all the promptings of duty—why not take a break and follow the pied piper of pleasure. You'll still meet your deadlines—you are a responsible person. But you could still admire and even pick up the prettiest fall leaves, buy a tiny or a huge bouquet of flowers, browse for 20 minutes at a hardware store or watch the last 15 minutes of the game or soap opera.
4) Incorporate "Do it now" into your play life as well as your work life. Five minutes every hour of stretching, journaling, daydreaming, lighting incense, or your choice of a pleasure quickie will make it easier to enjoy and be productive the rest of the hours. If
you reap huge satisfaction from getting a task started, you might even use those five minute breaks to put away three things on your desk, start a box for giveaways, or lay out the first step of your craft project. In this "Do it now" of pleasure, use those five minutes each hour or pick an hour a day for what brings a smile of joy, not a sense of
accomplishment. Leave accomplishment for the other hours.
5) If you can't have it all, focus on the good you do have. When your outing happens on a rainy day, take the opportunity to discover antique shops, watch a matinee, or get cozy at the fireplace. If your partner is grumpy, consider this your time to wander off and pamper yourself. Then his/her being out of sorts won't dampen your
day. Your housemate doesn't want to give up his TV program for yours. Hey, call a friend and watch your show together at his or her place. Bring the popcorn.