When it comes to happiness, most of us are concerned with the big stuff. Stuff like having a sense of purpose, career satisfaction, having a good self-concept, financial security, being physically healthy, achieving our goals and relationship satisfaction. In the pursuit of happiness, we get so wrapped up in these big things, that we forget to really experience the small, simple pleasures that are available to us every day. Simple pleasures that make our life experience rich and that are the ‘stuff of joy’.
When we are so busy being fixated on achieving the big things of happiness, we tend to be more aware of what isn’t than what is; and more aware of what we don’t have than what we do have. Because of this, we often don’t even recognize when these moments of simple joy are happening and we don’t really “resource” them. We don’t really take them in. Because of this, we deprive ourselves of joy in our everyday life.
For this reason, a powerful practice is to recognize, embrace, seek out and fully take in the simple pleasures that exist in the world for you on a daily basis. Your assignment this week is to write a list of your simple pleasures so that you can become aware of them. And to engage in at least one simple pleasure each day. And while you are engaging in that simple pleasure, fully feel it. Take it in with all of your senses. Be totally present with it with your mind, emotions, body and spirit. Let it “take you over” in a good way as if you have no filters to the full experiencing of that thing in life.
So that you can have an example, I will share with you some of my own list. If I shared the whole thing, we’d be here all day…
Sitting at the summit of a mountain peak when it is completely covered in snow
Watching horses graze and feeling their utter contentment or lying backwards on them and watching the clouds above me while they graze
Trying a new tea at a tea shop
Walking very slowly through a grocery store, looking at everything they have for sale
Meeting up with someone for a catch up and some connection
Cooking something for the people I love and calling them into the kitchen to try it
The feeling of bright, warm stage lights against my face
Gifts and Giving them!
Big downy flake snow storms with no wind
Hot baths (especially when they are colored pink by a bath bomb)
Watching someone’s hands and face in movie theatre lighting
The feeling of Velvet and Satin
Sitting in a shaft of sunlight when it is shining through a window
Sitting in a hot tub in the winter
Going for an intuition walk
The way my dogs greet me when I come home
Going on a run first thing in the morning with music playing in my headphones
Finding the perfect song to fit my mood
Reading a book or journaling in the haybales in a barn
Watching great British bakeoff
Standing on the beach and letting the waves wash up over my feet
Pulling the fluff out of Cat Tails (plant)
Sleeping with the widows open but with a super warm comforter, so it’s super cold outside and a warm cocoon inside when I sleep.
Swimming in swimming pools with goggles
Going to places in the city where birds hop around at my feet
Walking through artisan markets
Sticking my fingers in uncooked rice
Waking up before everyone else does
Making treasure hunts for children
Re arranging rooms
Attending hockey games
Eating pomegranates (pomegranate is my favorite fruit)
Eating snow out of a cup
Watching children in toy stores and soaking in their excitement
Popping tar bubbles in old roads
Now let’s imagine that I decided to engage in the simple pleasure of trying a new tea at a tea shop. I don’t care if I have had tea a thousand times in my life, I’m going to experience this cup of tea as if it is the first time that I am drinking tea on earth. I’m going to intentionally notice everything about the experience. I’m going to pay attention to every visual image and to every sensation on a physical and emotional level. The feeling of the cup against my hands. The fragrance of the tea. The sound of a spoon against ceramic and the liquid pouring. The look of the steam rising from the cup. The heat of the liquid in my mouth. The way the flavor plays on my tongue. The way it makes me feel emotionally to feel and hear and smell and taste all these things. I’m going to use the experience itself to pull me into the present moment and deeper into the full immersive experience of that tea… as if I came to earth specifically to try this tea.
When you are doing this exercise, make your list as big as you can and remember that simple pleasures come in all different shapes and sizes. Different simple pleasures are available to us based off of where we live and the unique lives that we have. And remember that one of the greatest joys in life is enjoying simple pleasures with others, most especially when we have the chance to introduce one of OUR simple pleasures to someone else, who has never experienced it before.
When it comes to the big things in life, people often feel like they are beyond reach and so, many people feel powerless to being able to bring about joy. What you will find is that these simple pleasures on the other hand are usually well within our control to experience. Meaning that joy is always within reach, we are not powerless to it and we can bring it about on any given day. This is a big deal when you finally accept that a happy life is really just a string of joyful moments. And it is these simple moments of joy that make for the best memories. A person who is truly living is someone who can fully immerse themselves in the simple pleasures occurring in any present moment and fully soak it in through all their senses.