Is pleasure a part of your daily life?
As humans, we’re able to feel and pursue pleasure, which sets us apart from many other types of animals. Many things make being a human special (self-awareness! Higher cognition! Thumbs! Complex language!), but one that we often overlook is our capacity for pleasure. We tend to be so busy that pleasure isn’t a priority in our day-to-day lives, but we don’t have to stay that way. There are ways to prioritize pleasure in your everyday life.
What is pleasure, anyway?
Pleasure is, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “enjoyment, happiness, or satisfaction, or something that gives this.” We have a cultural idea that pleasure is somehow dangerous or immoral, but that’s not actually true. If the idea of pursuing pleasure makes you think of things like gluttony, addiction, risky behaviors, or selfishness, it’s likely that you grew up hearing that message be reinforced. You might feel like you’re not allowed to pursue pleasure or to take pleasure in things, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We all deserve to feel pleasure regularly.
Why adding pleasure to your life matters
We can feel pleasure for a reason. We are surrounded by beauty, life, and opportunities for pleasure, but it can be hard to fully appreciate it because we don’t allow ourselves to experience them. Making time for pleasure in spite of our overly busy culture is a powerful statement. It can help reinforce the idea that you are worthy of pleasure.
Adding pleasure to your life makes a difference. Pleasure is a state of enjoyment, happiness, or satisfaction which are crucial to a good life. We all deserve to feel happiness! In a world with so much negativity and despair, actively pursuing happiness and enjoyment makes a big difference. In moments when the world is overwhelming and scary, remembering that there are things in life that can bring you joy and pleasure is comforting.
Pleasure feels good. It feels really good to be happy, or joyful, or satisfied, and it’s not a state that lasts forever. Making time to appreciate pleasure when it comes around can help make it easier to cope in moments that aren’t so pleasing
Looking for moments that can add pleasure to your daily life takes practice. If you’re not in the habit of noticing what pleases you, you might need to experiment to see what works best for you. Here are some suggestions for you to add pleasure to your everyday life:
Make a list of things that currently bring you pleasure
Nothing is too small to add to this list. Keep it in a place where you can easily add to it and see what you have gathered after a few days or a week. Anytime something pleases you, add it to the list. You might be surprised to find out what’s on there after a few weeks! Once you have your list of pleasurable things, you can try to incorporate those things into your life regularly and set yourself up to feel more pleasure.
Engage with your senses
Our senses are one of the most basic ways we interact with our surroundings and can tell us a lot. If you’re having difficulty getting out of your head and noticing what’s pleasurable for you, try using your senses as a way in. This practice can help you learn how to be mindful of the present moment and feel more connected to your body, which can help you feel pleasure.
Notice what you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. Try to go through each sense and note what’s going on. When you practice dropping into your body and exploring the sensations you’re experiencing, it will become a habit to slow down and notice what’s going on and what is bringing you happiness.
Notice the present moment
Adding pleasure to your life can be as simple as fully noticing the present moment and appreciating its beauty. We tend to be so busy and constantly moving that it takes real effort to slow down and take in what’s happening around us. When we can notice what’s going on right now, instead of worrying about tomorrow or feeling ashamed of the past, we can experience the joy the present moment offers.
Remove the guilt from your pleasure.
Guilty pleasures can be regular pleasures. You don’t have to feel guilty about what makes you feel good. Judgment and shame make us feel like we aren’t allowed to feel positive things, but that’s just your inner critic voice talking. You’re allowed to feel good. It’s part of what makes it great to be alive!
We can feel a vast range of emotions, but getting stuck in the negative emotions and discounting the positive ones is easy. When you notice that happening to you, be compassionate with yourself and try to redirect your thoughts from the negative emotions to what’s positive.
Remember that you don’t need to earn rest.
It’s hard to find pleasure if you’re exhausted and depleted. Rest is crucial to so many functions, but it also helps us to be able to find and appreciate pleasure more easily. If you’re stressed and tired, it will be easy to miss the little things that can bring you enjoyment, happiness, and satisfaction.
You don’t need to earn rest; you deserve it just because you exist. You don’t have to complete a certain amount of work or do a certain number of things to earn a rest. You can rest every single day without guilt.
Don’t forget to play.
Play is for everyone, not just for kids. Adults need time to play too! We can all use more fun and play in our lives. You might find it tricky to remember how to play if it’s been a while (and for most of us, it has!). Try thinking of what you liked to do when you were little.
Were you always playing outside with your friends? Maybe see if your pals want to play kickball or spend time in a park. Were you artsy as a kid? Try doing some arts and crafts and see what feels inspiring. Were you more of a gamer as a kid? Try a new game. Spending time with the kids in your life can also help you re-familiarize yourself with play!
Make it a habit to reflect on what you’re grateful for or what brings you joy each day. Taking the time to notice what is going well in your life and what makes you happy each day can help train your brain to notice those things. After a while, it will become a habit to practice gratitude regularly.
Try regularly keeping track of what you’re grateful for in a journal or a note on your phone. Try giving people compliments and accepting them when people give them to you. Talk about what makes you happy with the people you care about. Bring up the little things you notice that make life special – maybe you’ll inspire someone else to make more time for pleasure, too!