3 Days Practicing Pleasure

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Far too often, recently, I’ve found myself down the rabbit hole of Facebook comparisons.  I look through pictures that people have posted of themselves as their profile pics (of course – we all post the BEST of the BEST here) and thought that I’m not nearly as attractive, accomplished, or popular as this person.  But when I dig through these negative thoughts what I simmer down to for me is that this person looks HAPPY.  And more than any other quality (resume, great skin, stylish clothes), I want me some more of that.  I want to have peace, and joy.  I want to be laughing and dancing more than I’m concerned, stressed, or do-ing through my list.  Happy might make me beautiful, beloved, and successful… or not.  But it may mean I care a lot less about any of those things because I’m too enthralled by enjoying my life.  (And, I deleted my FB app on my phone.  Yes, freedom from alerts and the temptation to instantly and everywhere have that self-comparison downer trip!)

So what does it mean to practice happiness, to find pleasure in being alive?  How do I learn to slow down and enjoy the sensations in life?  How do I remember the why of what I’m doing?  How can I bring luscious love into the process of all that I’m creating and learning in my life?

Part of a health program I’m going through to restore hormonal balance in my body set a challenge this week to spend 3 days practicing pleasure (outside of food!).  For a do-er like me, who, even without a full time job, finds herself exhausted, disappointed that she doesn’t do more.  Even with compromised health from stress, this is not only super key, but also super hard.  I want to rush through the check-list item of “take care of Kelsey”… and get on to the next awesome thing I want to achieve.

However, I’m slowly learning (with age?  with maturity?  with blaring signals from my body that it needs a break?) that finding joy and caring for myself is an important piece of living a long and full life that I design.

So, here’s what I’ve been doing over this 3 day experiment to experience the pleasure of being alive in my body and in my life:

Day 1:  Went to the library and rented a book that is JUST FOR FUN.  Not related to work, school, or anything I’m “getting better at”.  I started reading… and didn’t want to stop.  My analytical brain got a well deserved break.  Why don’t I do this more often?

Day 2:  SLEEP IN.  That’s it.  I didn’t set an alarm or make any plans before noon (or whatever time is a luxury for you).  My body got to dictate my speed for the morning.

Day 3:  Laid out my yoga mat, put on some fun music, and let my body be my guide.  No goals of poses, no need to sweat to a certain level or make myself sore… just authentic movement.  I practiced listening to my body and letting my toes wiggle, my legs bend and flow in the air, and then I gave myself a quick coconut oil massage (an Ayurvedic practice called Abhyanga) before an awesome hot shower.

Here is what I learned:

1.  Sometimes, I still need to think of practicing pleasure as a to-do… AND I can use that to my advantage  by putting my pleasure time into my calendar.  Maybe sometimes it will be scheduling a pedicure, but other times it may just be 15 minutes of self massage or putting on a temporary tattoo to remember how rad I am.

2.  As I practice remembering the joy in my body and breath and relationships in small ways (exercise, sleep, quality time, etc.), I found myself also remembering the pleasure in folding my laundry with care and love for me and my partner.  I remembered the pleasure in putting the dishes in the dishwasher because I don’t HAVE to wash them myself AND they will be so lovely clean when I get back home… the little things.  It’s always the little things…

Some other ways to practice experiencing the pleasure all around us:

– Call a friend

– Write a letter

– Doodle, Color, or Paint

– Light a candle

– Paint your nails

– Give yourself a luxurious shave – cream, new razor, moisturizer

– Put on soothing music

– Put on a great jam and dance around the house

– Take a walk outside

– Listen to a comedian you like or watch a funny show

– Make a collage from old magazines or of photos

– Make a playlist of feel happy jams

– Take a nap

– Enjoy a bath with essential oils and salts

– Put on your PJs, great socks, and grab a book or journal

What do you do to remember how great life can feel?  How do you go about practicing pleasure?