Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Dose of Pleasure Thursday: Making Pleasure a Priority


“Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is” --C.S. Lewis

Greetings everyone! My name is Diane and I'm honored to be today's guest blogger. My topic is one that is near and dear to my heart – pleasure. I'll be here every Thursday with A Dose of Pleasure, so if you're feeling “blah” and wanting to get more juice out of life, you've come to the right place.

My background comes in the form of all things Eastern. I've been a student of yoga for over 10 years, and my love for the transformational nature of the practice sparked my interest in other ancient practices. I've studied a wide range of mind-body practices and decided to turn my passion into my career. I exited Corporate America almost 5 years ago and, I haven't looked back since. Now I'm putting all my knowledge to use and living a pleasure-filled life.

It's Okay to Enjoy Life

As a yoga teacher who works with private clients out on the East End of Long Island, New York, I work with people of all ages, backgrounds, and body types. The majority of them complain about the same things – anxiety, stress, fatigue – and often ask the age-old question, “Is this all there is?” Let's face it – there's a lot of static out there in the world. It makes it difficult to experience some semblance of peace. And the idea of having fun and enjoying life? Well, that gets a bad rap, with labels like “selfish,” “self-indulgent,” “unrealistic,” and a whole host of other icky words.

What's wrong with enjoying life? Life is meant to be enjoyed, savored, and appreciated. Complaining, bitching, and moaning don't quite rank up there as enjoyable life activities (they only drain your energy and suck the life right out of you). What often stands between a person and pleasure is guilt and doubt. Pleasure doesn't always come naturally. That's why we have to give ourselves permission to feel good. When you commit to pleasure, you'll find that the guilt and doubt fall away and your life improves by leaps and bounds.

Filling Up Your Pleasure Tank

That's the good news. The bad news is that pleasure is a discipline. If you're cringing over the “D” word, I totally understand and can relate. Discipline is a scary word – it brings up visions of hard work and struggle. No worries! The discipline of pleasure isn't all that scary. It simply means that you have to choose pleasure – again and again. Practice makes pleasure and, like with yoga, you need to continually practice to get and maintain the benefits.

Are you up for the challenge? When you're feeling more joy and having more fun, you'll know that all of that practice was worth it. Once you understand that expanding your capacity for pleasure is like creating a habit, it won't seem so intimidating. I'm sure when you first started brushing your teeth, it seemed like a bit of a chore (of course you probably had a lot of coaxing from your parents. That's what I'm here for -- to coax you into choosing pleasure.). Now it's automatic – you brush without thinking. Often you enjoy doing so because you like how it feels after you're done. The same applies here.

The How of Pleasure

Now that we've got that out of the way, you're probably wondering how the heck you're going to invite pleasure into your life. That's what these posts are for – they give you the tools you need to inject your life with more pleasure. Think of this as your Pleasure GPS.

I'm all about practices that will help you ground a concept into your life. If you don't have a concrete practice, than all of these inspiring words are just that – words. Because you're just starting out and I know that everyone is busy and even the idea of adding just one more “To Do” to your list can seem daunting, I'm going to start small. That's the other piece of good news – small shifts make big differences.

First Thing's First

I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – you have to commit to pleasure. That means that you have to be willing to choose happiness over other things. Maybe it's taking the time to do a pleasure practice rather than watch TV. It's all about priorities. Just recently, I had an experience in which I could have chosen anger or pleasure. I chose pleasure. It turned my entire day around. I'm not going to lie – I was sorely tempted to give into the anger and get all pissy. I had to recommit to my pleasure in the moment. So the first thing on our agenda are the two magic questions:

  1. Can and will you give yourself permission to feel good?

  2. Are you willing to choose pleasure in this moment?

A Simple Pleasure Practice

Now for your pleasure practice for the week – appreciation. Yep, it's that simple. Here's what you do – stop reading this blog post and take a moment to appreciate what's happening in the moment. It could be that you're sitting near a window with a great view or you can hear birds singing or you have a cup of fragrant steaming tea sitting by your side. Name everything that there is to appreciate right now (you can do this in your head or you can write it down – whichever you prefer).

I did this a few weeks ago when I had a two-hour layover during holiday travel. While many of my fellow travelers looked annoyed, impatient, and all-around unhappy, I was smiling. I sat in the airport appreciating the fact that I had a stack of awesome reading material, heavenly lip balm, time on my hands to call my cell phone carrier about my text messaging issues, a wide selection of music on my iPod, access to clean bathrooms, a kiosk that offered a variety of healthy food (not an easy feat to find in an airport), time to journal...I could go on and on here.

The point is that I appreciated the heck out of my situation and discovered that a 2-hour layover was an opportunity to experience pleasure. It passed by quickly and not only did I get my text message issue sorted out (there's a side benefit to appreciation – it raises your energy and expands out to others. The customer service rep and I had a delightful conversation filled with humor and my problem was solved with happy feelings..), but I filled the time with a whole host of pleasurable activities.

I recommend taking frequent appreciation breaks throughout the day. Do exactly the same as I've outlined here – simply stop what you're doing and appreciate. If you forget, no worries. Get yourself a pen and some paper and write down what you appreciated during the day. Don't struggle with this or judge what you're writing about – just have fun with it and write down what comes to mind. Let yourself appreciate everything – the big and the small.

Appreciation primes the pump for more pleasure. Until next week, have fun appreciating.

Have a pleasure-filled day,

Diane


Diane Cesa is a yoga practitioner and teacher, lover of life, tea drinker, adventurer, eternal optimist, nature fan, blogger and self-proclaimed pleasure maven.




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