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.
6) Love your idiosyncrasies, forgive your weaknesses. I happen to be easily drawn into alternative activities no matter what I've begun. I don't like chiding myself, especially since I always meet my deadlines and do what must be done. So I've (mostly) made my distractibility just a fact of life instead of a detriment. I step back and
observe me being Moreah, and seek to be as indulgent of my aberrations as I am of my granddaughter's whims. Whether it's sleeping with your socks on, letting the dish drainer pile high, or always stopping at garage sales, I remind myself these behaviors are pretty harmless.
I watched Masterpiece Theater recently where the youngest son of a prestigious British family often spoke and acted without thinking. That got him into a duel, and as he was dying, he asked his family what he should say when he reached the other side. They
answered with love, "Whatever you think of. Whatever comes out of your mouth." That seemed like pretty unconditional acceptance of who he was—blessing him as he left them, affirming that it was okay to keep on being who he was.
7) Grab your pleasure when and where it shows up. You're working at your desk and your dear friend Charles calls. The work can wait, unless calls always sidetrack you. Go to your most comfortable chair and sink into the conversation. A friend of mine
told me he is a millionaire in friends and acquaintances. Enjoy your wealth; give the bountiful gift of your attention to those you care about.
8) Make your own decisions on what is enough. It's not about comparisons, but about what suits you! If it pleases you to run marathons, to climb Mt. Everest, to spend hours in a hammock reading, to go back to the buffet line three times, to have two sets of tools, to sleep nine hours, do it. Honor yourself. Your desires and needs are inside you for a reason. You get to choose. You even get to say, "I've heard enough from you. No more!"
9) Tune in to this moment’s sights and sounds. Move toward what quiets your busy mind and relaxes your heart.. A candle? A walk around the block? A soothing CD? The neighbor's flower garden? A photo album? Don't wait for the two-week vacations, the
year's bonus, the 40th birthday party. Open your ears to today's bird songs, your eyes to the fruit display at the Farmers Market, your nose to the aroma of lasagna, your touch to velvet and baby skin and loved ones' hugs. Start a gratitude journal. Read even more of 14,000 Things to be Happy About. The more you notice the goodies in your life, the
more they will show up.
10) Do anything that’s needed to figure out what makes you fully alive. Then indulge yourself. As Barbara Sher says, "What you love is your gift to the world." Whether it's raising gorillas, blowing glass, woodworking, playing saxophone, or biking around the world, if it's a strong desire, go for it. Don't settle for anything less than Everything. What you think about, you draw to yourself. Think pleasure, feel softness, dream in color. Don't even consider that on your deathbed you might wish you had done A or B. Put A and B in your planner now. Pass the word. Life is for fully expressing all of who you are. Sip, savor, chew, inhale, gulp, devour—and enjoy every moment.
If you'd like a free 30-minute coaching session on any areas of your life you'd like to focus on, change or improve, please call me at 206-938-8385. Moreah