As an ex-Catholic, I’ve had to practice giving up guilt around the conscious pursuit of pleasure in my life. I tend to agree with Napoleon Hill in Think & Grow Rich: "Ask life for great gifts and you encourage life to deliver them to you." I made up the following list for
both a speech I gave and a column I wrote. I’m not elaborating much on any of my 11 guidelines here, because I hope you will put your own imagination to active use in seeing how they apply personally.
My 11 ways to invite pleasure into your life:
1) Grab your pleasure when and where it shows up. Don't have a set idea of how it must look. If you have your schedule set to accomplish 17 things today, and you get a free ticket to a concert you’d love to attend, drop those last 13 things if you must, and exult in your good luck. Do know and honor your & others' boundaries and values in the process.
2) When you see something you want, ask for it. Do it as easily as you'd place your order with the waiter. Assume if you want it, you're meant to have it. Ask Life to be your waiter from now on. It’s easier to get a “no” than to wonder for the next three months
whether you might have gotten your desire if you had asked.
3) Go for what you can have when you can't have it all.The sunny part of the rainy day; the friendship if not the lover; the soup when the entree is too expensive.
4) Get out of your serious adult and into your playful child every chance you get. How would that look for you? Who would you invite along? How can you make playfulness a regular fun habit? I hired the Bubble Man to do a bubble show in my back yard for my 59th birthday party; the five kids and 30 adults oohed and ahhed over his tricks and the tools he entertained us with. I mark in my annual calendar in April to find out which day Ben & Jerry’s is giving away their free ice cream cones. Once a friend in a green foam sombrero and I in my rainbow colored wig gave away free tickets ("to nothing") at a local street festival. It was great fun for us and also for the receivers of the unusable tickets. What sounds playful to you?
5) Take pride in what does work for you instead of putting yourself down for your limitations. When I was in Siena, Italy, and geographically challenged, I feared I'd never find my travel partner Dee again when I went off looking for lodging. I retraced my route
the long way, but found her. How can you reframe a criticism of yourself into an approval/ acceptance of you just as you are?
6) Plan for, and insist on, breaks or rests to make the demanding times less stressful. That goes for at work, on a hike, and meeting a deadline. What kind of breaks work for you? It could be a cup of tea, a three block walk, a trip to the store, five minutes of stretching, or even a nap.