“Many of us are plagued by cultural messages that doing things that feel good, just for the fun of it, is irresponsible and self-indulgent,” writes editor Karen Bouris in her book 31 Words to Create a Guilt-Free Life: Finding the Freedom to Be Your Most Powerful Self.
When we finally have some free time, we wonder what work we should fill it with. Should I pick up around the house? Do the laundry? Dust? Work on another project? Pay the bills?
It feels strange or unfamiliar to do the things we like, to rest, to take a nap during the day, to take a day off.
I have to remind myself of the same thing: It’s OK to take a break. It’s OK to do nothing or to savor something wonderful. It’s OK to let pleasure into your life.
In fact, according to Karen, “It’s an essential facet of our overall well-being.”
In the book, she suggests making a “pleasures list” with up to 100 things you truly enjoy. I say challenge yourself to create a list of 100simple pleasures. Karen uses the examples of having an ice cream cone on a hot day, cuddling with your cat, taking a tour at the museum and reading a book at the park.
Consider adding activities you enjoy doing during different seasons. In the wintertime, you might add savoring potato soup, making snow angels and sipping hot chocolate. In the spring, you might include hiking your favorite trail, riding your bike, picking strawberries and visiting the zoo.
In the summer, you might include going to the farmer’s market, making guacamole, eating watermelon, reading on your back porch, collecting seashells at the beach and savoring fruit salad. In the fall, you might add taking photos of the changing leaves, going apple-picking, burning cranberry scented candles and baking a pumpkin pie.
Once you have your list, start integrating those small pleasures into your life, Karen writes. “Even on busy days, try to find time to sing along with the radio or call your best friend (or whatever it is that you can do to add a splash of pleasure into your day!).”
Here are other ideas:
- listening to music while driving
- savoring a piece of dark chocolate while sipping your favorite coffee
- drinking a glass of wine
- visiting a botanical garden
- browsing a used bookstore
- browsing the library
- getting a massage
- taking a yoga class
- cuddling on the couch with a good book
- buying a new journal
- planting flowers
- buying yourself a bouquet
- watching the sunset
- sleeping in
- watching your favorite cartoon from childhood while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (cut in triangles, of course) and drinking chocolate milk
- re-reading your favorite poem
- taking a dance break
- going on a weekend getaway to a nearby city
- making your own face scrub and applying it
- going to a music festival
- having lunch by the lake