07 Aug Take Pleasure
When you find pleasure in life, you are not pushing away things that are hard or painful. You are simply opening up to the sweet stuff that’s already around you—and basking, luxuriating, and delighting in it.
This activates the calming and soothing parasympathetic wing of your autonomic nervous system, and quiets the fight-or-flight sympathetic wing and its stress-response hormones. Besides lifting your mood, settling your fears, and brightening your outlook, the stress relief of taking pleasure offers physical health benefits, too: strengthening your immune system, improving digestion, and balancing hormones.
My book Just One Thing offers the practice of Taking Pleasure – which you’ll find below – as well as 51 additional practices to change for the better.
How to Take Pleasure
Relish the pleasures of daily life, starting with your senses:
• What smells good? The skin of an orange, wood smoke on the air, dinner on the stove, a young child’s hair . . .
• Tastes delicious? Strong coffee, delicate tea, French toast—chocolate!—tossed salad, goat cheese . . .
• Looks beautiful? Sunrise, sunset, full moon, a baby sleeping, red leaves in autumn, images of galaxies, fresh fallen snow . . .
• Sounds wonderful? Waves on the seashore, wind through pine trees, a dear friend laughing, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, silence itself . . .
• Feels good on your skin? Newly washed sheets, a good back scratch, warm water, a fresh breeze on a muggy day . . .
Next, include the mind: What do you like to think about or remember. For example, bring to mind a favorite setting—a mountain meadow, a tropical beach, a cozy living room chair—and imagine yourself there.
Last, savor these pleasures. Sink into them, take your time with them, and let them fill your body and mind. Marinate in pleasure! Notice any resistance to feeling really good, any thought that it is foolish or wrong . . . and then see if you can let that go. And fall back into pleasure.