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Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Dose of Pleasure Thursday – Small Steps Add Up to More Pleasure

"From small beginnings come great things." --Proverb

Ever wonder why change is so darned hard? Perhaps this sounds familiar – it's the end of December and you're feeling hopeful and excited about the new year. You've been meaning to lose the 10 lbs. that have been making your uncomfortable for awhile (or insert any other habit you'd like to change or life change that you want to make) and the fresh start of the new year inspires you to make a resolution to lose the weight. You look forward to starting on the first of the year. As soon as January 1 rolls around, you're going to purge your kitchen of all junk food and join a gym. Fast forward to three weeks later – you haven't been to the gym in days and your food intake has consisted more of pizza than salad.

We've all heard that when the pain of staying the same is more than the pain of changing, change will happen. While there's logic in that, it certainly doesn't sound fun. What makes change so painful? Is it possible to ease your way into change? As Mark Twain says, “Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” Perhaps throwing away the junk food and joining the gym is too much, too soon and could be considered a habit that's being thrown out the window. So how do you escort a habit down the stairs one step at a time?

Enter the concept of Kaizen. Kaizen is the Japanese concept of technique of creating great and lasting success through small, steady steps. Most often this concept is applied in business, but it's just as applicable to one's personal life. Rather than thinking big, try thinking small. In fact, the smaller the better. For once, I want you to be an under-achiever. That's right – rather than try to do it all at once, I want you to do the smallest thing possible. One small thing.

Use this principle to make your life more pleasurable. As I mentioned in past posts, pleasure isn't exactly on everyone's priority list. Some people think it's selfish to seek out pleasure while others think that “real-life stuff” must come before pleasure. What if I said that you could introduce more pleasure into your life in 1 minute? That sounds painless enough, right?

Using Kaizen, here's how you would go about it:

  1. Ask yourself – what's the one thing I can do to make my life more pleasureable?

  2. Take the answer and chunk it down into a tiny step that only takes one minute to complete.

Here's an example. Let's say that your answer to the first question was to get out in nature more. When you think about scheduling nature walks into your calendar, you start hemming and hawing about being too busy and not having enough time. Try this instead – find an appealing picture of nature and hang it up where you can see it. That's it. Or, you could do what I recently started doing – when I know I can't get outside for a hike, I simply spend a few minutes standing outside in my yard.

If you've been reading these pleasure posts thinking “yeah, that sounds nice, but I've already got enough on my plate without thinking about how I can get more pleasure into my life” try a little Kaizen. For a little more guidance on the topic of Kaizen, I highly recommend the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer.

Have a pleasure-filled day,


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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1 comment:

Katharine Albritton said...

I've always loved the idea of kaizen. Thanks for reminding me that less is often more!