How much pleasure do you experience every day? Some might dismiss this as a frivolous question, but pleasure is very important to a satisfying life.
When you’re in the thick of a health challenge, like pain and fatigue from an autoimmune disorder, life can quickly feel very difficult and all the pleasure seems to drain away, leaving only the slog and drudgery of coping, doing treatments and going to appointments. Daily life is about managing somehow, and there’s not much left over for pleasure.
However, when life is at its hardest, pleasure is even more important.
The importance of pleasure
I’ve been lucky enough to train with one of the leading figures in the Positive Psychology movement, Maria Sirois. Maria’s a psychologist who works in a hospice with children and families where the child has a terminal condition. If you’re looking for hard situations, that’s right up there. Yet the work they do together is life affirming.
I use exercises I learned from Maria with my clients. I’m going to share one with you now, because they’re simple to do and very effective at getting to the heart of what really matters.
The small features of life that we notice and experience every day accumulate over time to constitute the richness of our lives. Like the brush strokes of a painting, each individual brush stroke adds to the layers of colour and texture that build the overall picture. Without them, the rich depth of the artwork as a whole would not exist. The brush strokes are beautiful in themselves, and part of the larger beautiful whole. And so it is with the small moments of our days. Our day-to-day experience builds how we feel about our life as a whole.
How to increase pleasure every day
A simple way to start is to ask yourself this question:
If I wanted to increase pleasure in my day by 3%, what would I do?
The reason it’s 3% is because this is a tiny amount. We can find time for 3%. And you might then go on to do more, which is fine.
Ask yourself the question and then make a list of 3 to 5 things you’d do, to increase pleasure in your day by 3%.
Here are some examples:
- Sit outside and breathe fresh air for five minutes
- Chat to a friend
- Read a book
- Hug someone
- Listen to music
- Play with the dog
- Make yourself some delicious food
- Go for a walk and really look at the landscape around you
Once you’ve made the list, you have a choice.
Option A – Choose one idea from your list and add it to your day for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days try a new one.
Option B – Each morning, look at the list and decide which one you want to add to your day.
Whichever way you choose, notice:
- which activity do you enjoy the most?
- what’s different about them?
- how does it feel to mix and match or stack them?
Notice how you feel as the days go by and how much pleasure you’re finding in life. Notice in what way your feelings change.
Be playful with it. If you feel like doing something different, add it in! There are no strict rules. Just an intention to increase pleasure by at least 3%, and a curiosity about how it feels to do it.
Enjoying your life matters. You matter. Life isn’t meant to be all grim and earnest. If you’re struggling to find pleasure and light in life and you want some help to lift your spirits, give me a call.
You can find other ideas for worrying less so you can enjoy life more on this free PDF (ADD LINK)