The last time we talked pleasure, I offered up a simple practice of appreciation. How is the daily appreciating coming along? If you're having trouble with appreciation as a daily practice, know that you're not alone. I, too, struggled with this practice in the beginning. It seemed to simple to make any changes of importance.
Remember, appreciation helps you savor the moment. So often we experience blissful moments (for example, you're taking a walk in the woods and you spy a baby deer and his mommy) that we let pass us right by because we fail to acknowledge them (in this case, you would stop to watch the deer and say to yourself “oh, the deer are so beautiful. It's such a wonderful day. I'm so glad that I was lucky enough to be walking in these woods at this very moment.”). When we appreciate, we acknowledge and savor and we open the way for more good things to happen. I sure was surprised when I stuck with a daily appreciation practice – it was the wonderful, surprising results that's kept me doing it all this time. Don't take my word for it – try it daily for a week and see what happens for you.
Transformation: From Tedium to Pleasure
I admit it – I procrastinated quite a bit before sitting down to write this post. I wiled away (re: wasted) hours on the Internet. I got myself a drink of water – twice. I made a phone call (which could have waited until tomorrow). Finally I realized that by dreading the task of writing this post, I was sucking all of the pleasure out of it. Shame shame on the self-proclaimed pleasure maven!
I brainstormed what would make writing more pleasurable and viola – now I'm happily sitting at my desk writing. A scented candle is lit near my desk, emitting a delightful, uplifting scent. I have some Vivaldi playing softly in the background. By my side sits a mason jar filled with warm water garnished with a piece of fresh ginger. I even gave myself permission to write a crappy blog post (for me, perfectionism lurks behind procrastination). These small tweaks took a chore and turned it into a pleasure.
The Benefit of Being Prepared
Here's the rub – sometimes shifting from ho-hum/dread/anger/unhappiness to pleasure can be a bit difficult. That's why it's helpful to prepare beforehand. I have a supply of candles in my office for this very reason. There's a playlist on my iPod devoted solely to some of my favorite pieces of classical music. My fridge is stocked with fresh ginger. In other words – I am prepared for pleasure. By arming myself with pleasureables, I invite pleasure into my life. It's much easier for me to set the stage for pleasure when I have all that I need on hand.
The Pleasure List
If you want more pleasure in your life, your task it to get prepared. That's where the Pleasure List comes in. Sit down and make a list of things that bring you pleasure (this list can comprise items that you like, activities that you enjoy, etc.). It can be as simple as having a CD of your favorite music to an inspiring book that you like to read and reread to a favorite food. Know that you don't have to do/use all of the things that you list every day. You can use some on one day and others on another. The candles, the music, and the flavored water – these are all on my list but they aren't even close to being the only things on my list (believe me – I have a looooong list). Here are some suggestions to get your pleasure juices flowing:
A selection of your favorite tea (one of my favorite sources for tea online is Amanzi Tea
Luscious, decadent body lotion (perfect to keep on hand during the winter months – I have some sitting near my desk for regular soften-ups)
Music (make a playlist of inspiring, uplifting songs that make you want to dance and sing along)
Chocolate (okay, that's the chocolate lover in me writing that – feel free to sub in your favorite food)
A stack of magazines that you consider frivolous reading
Take a bubble bath
Play-Doh, colored pencils and paper (for play breaks that remind you of the joys of being a child)
Snuggle time with a beloved pet
Getting a manicure/pedicure
I could go on and on, but I'll stop here, as this list was only meant to jumpstart your creativity in the pleasure department. Brainstorm what comes to mind and be prepared to revisit the list when a new idea pops into your head. There are no rules here: the list can comprise big things, small things – the only requirement is that they bring you pleasure. The point is to assemble as list that you can turn to when you're feeling less than pleasured.
For a long time I went blind, without a list. Although my ego was sure that it could conjure up pleasurable things/activities without the benefit of a quick reference pleasure list, I noticed that it was harder for me to turn things around when I was feeling crabby and pleasure-less. Once I had a physical list in front of my face, I found myself referring to the list again and again. Whenever I was in a pleasure slump, I would go to the list and pick out one, two, or three things that brought me pleasure. If I had extra time on my hands, I would turn to my pleasure list and pick something (a bubble bath and a stack of inspirational books is one of my favorite go-tos). This little routine of noticing when I felt like I needed a boost and referring to my pleasure list transformed my days into time punctuated by pleasure breaks. Try it out and see for yourself.
Interested in receiving extra pleasure credit? Make writing up a pleasure list a creative project. Get out your colored pens/pencils, colored paper, sparkles, stickers, and whatever else will customize your list with your own personal style and flair. Remember: you're going to be referring to this list daily, so you might as well make it all pretty to look at!
As you can see, the scouts aren't the only ones who need to be prepared – so do us regular folk who want to add more pleasure to our lives. Creating a go-to pleasure list will help you go from crabby to pleasured in no time.
Have a pleasure-filled day,