O ne of the most surprising tricks I’ve learned along the path of creating a life I love is that if I want to learn a new skill, create a new good habit, or simply sink into what is loving and nourishing, seeking delight in the ordinary is the answer. Purposely seeking those small pleasures lights my path.
What it took me awhile to really grasp is that I can learn some of my best lessons through delight. Yes, even the smallest moment of pleasure began to show me a gentler way to shift my actions, my thoughts, and my deeper beliefs.
Don’t get me wrong. Like anyone, I have had my share of painful lessons. Heartbreak, betrayal, and the results of bad decisions always teach me lessons. No one can deny we learn from those painful experiences. Yet, what I’ve learned – both as a coach and another person journeying through this world – is that tapping into even the tiniest delight can illuminate what direction I need to turn.
Especially when life feels overwhelming or downright painful, delight saves me.
It can be incredibly simple to pepper my life with things that delight me: to buy a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store when I’m picking up spinach and chicken. Or to ask for a real cup at Starbucks as I sip a latte and watch the people instead of taking my treat to go. It can be as easy as the choice to wear my favorite dress on a day I never leave the house because it makes me feel pretty.
Lingering over a pot of tea while I read Southern Living can feel frivolous. It can also feel incredibly challenging and downright selfish when I witness so much pain in the world. Who am I to experience pleasure when others are suffering? How can I prioritize five minutes of delight when my to do list is so long?
One of the things I know is this: there is power in collective energy. When I practice acts of kindness and delight for myself, loved ones, and even strangers, that positive and loving energy radiates out into the world.
I discovered that when my needs feel met because I have at least a moment or two of pleasure on a daily basis, love and kindness flows from me more easily. By choosing to regularly seek pleasure and delight, I am able to act from a place of love rather than fear.
And darling, here’s something else I know for sure: Extending my suffering because someone else is suffering doesn’t heal the world.
Many of us grew up with the puritanical beliefs that we must suffer. That because we were born with “original sin” we could only learn lessons through pain. And we also learned that no matter how much pain we were experiencing, someone else was suffering more. So we should be grateful and shouldn’t complain. And, no, complaining doesn’t fix anything.
But please let’s be clear hear: everyone’s pain is valid.
Yes, those so-called first world problems create real distress in real people. No one’s humanity is less just because they have food on the table or a roof over their head.
The choice to curate your life with delight and simple pleasures empowers you to create the type of life you desire to lead. And this, my darling, can feel like work. Adding more to your to do list when you’re already feeling overwhelmed and wishing for more hours in the day might sound like an unrealistic expectation.
You might be asking how to begin moving towards pleasure.Especially when it feels selfish to find delight when the world is such a mess. Please trust me when I tell you that it isn’t selfish.
I’m going to introduce you to a little game to play with yourself to manage the (uncomfortable task) of peppering your life with delight. No shaming , name calling, or guilt allowed.
Here’s how to play the delight game:
- Supply wise, you need some note cards (or paper), a pen, and a dozen envelopes.
- Brainstorm a list of activities, items, people, and places that delight you.Here are a few examples to get your started:
- Going to lunch with your mom, sister, or a special friend.
- Cooking an especially delightful meal.
- Fresh flowers in your house. Buy them at the grocery store or heck, order them from the florist to be delivered to yourself!
- A whole weekend in your PJ’s.
- Visiting a fancy hotel, even if its just to sit in their lobby.
- Lingering on the porch to read a book.
- On each note card, write about each individual delight. Allow your inner child to roam free and decorate the cards with curlicues and sketches of balloons and flowers.
- Now, place each of the cards into an envelope and seal.
- Shuffle them around and write a month on each envelope.
- Place the envelopes in the top drawer of your dresser, nightstand, or desk.
- On the first Saturday of each month, go into your drawer and pull the envelope for the month. If you need to do so, set a recurring task on your calendar!
- Now for the magic: commit to taking action before the 15th of the month.
Guaranteed delight each month will allow you to find your own lessons from treating yourself with kindness.
The end of the month for most of us feels stressful thanks to deadlines, bills, and such. Just knowing you have pleasure ahead helps you keep going, even when life is tough. Looking forward to the future with positive feelings can magically shift your life little by little.