Taking pleasure


A short Wednesday night post: picking up on a topic implicit in the previous post, I want to talk about taking pleasure.

I’ve been doing pre-work for my coaching program (I’ll have to write a post about it–it’s been a wild ride), and one of the major facets of my personality I’ve been focusing on is my need to please. Sometimes it feels like being a people pleaser is buried deep in my DNA. It’s something I’m working on, but for most of my life, I derived self-worth from saying “yes” and making other people happy, even if it was a drain on my own emotional well-being. I derived validation and security from the approval of others. I felt important if I was contributing, even if I didn’t really want to contribute.

My need to please came from a deep fear of how others would view me if I said or did something they didn’t like. I worried people might think I was lazy, or inconsiderate, or selfish. And I took pleasure in being liked, even if the person others liked was a totally inauthentic version of me.

Since starting on this wellness journey, my big question has been, “How can I please myself?”

I started taking note of the everyday things that give me pleasure, and, being more conscious of them, I deliberately incorporate them into my day.

Here is an incomplete list of what I take pleasure in:

  • rubbing thick, creamy, deliciously scented lotion on my feet at night, when I first get into bed
  • a really hot, long shower
  • a really hot lavender and Epsom salt bath
  • scented candles burning in the house
  • the first sip of really good coffee in the morning
  • dark chocolate
  • clasping a warm mug of tea between my hands
  • soft, oversized sweaters
  • the feeling in my body during and after yoga, a tough workout, or a run
  • the first sip of cool water after a workout
  • the smell and feeling of clean sheets on my skin
  • laughing until I can’t breathe with my sister or partner or good friends
  • taking an afternoon to listen to an audiobook or a podcast and paint my nails
  • putting on makeup slowly (usually somewhat rushed in the morning, so having extra time is exciting)
  • dry body brushing (not sure if this is pseudoscience, but I have always enjoyed the feeling of being lightly scratched on my skin–my mom, who has long nails, used to scratch my arms when we’d watch TV at night, or my dad would scratch my back before bed, when I was little). I promise I’m not trying to be Gwyneth. It just feels so good before a shower.
  • Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (thanks to Heather, who taught me this was a real thing). I have always felt weird tingles/chills/sleepiness/deep relaxation that begins on my scalp and moves down my neck to my shoulders and upper back when listening to people who have a certain kind of soft, whispery, almost crinkly voice. I’ve never known how to explain this until Heather taught me this term, but I can literally look up ASMR videos on YouTube and feel this sensation. If you’ve ever sat in a class with me and saw me surreptitiously massaging my shoulders, this was happening when someone was speaking.
  • the feeling of kneading dough under my palms
  • bear hugs
  • watching half an hour to an hour of a TV show I love
  • blasting a favorite song on full volume and singing and dancing as I get ready in the morning
  • the smell of something baking
  • watching a really beautiful sunset
  • curling up under a blanket and reading fiction for fun
  • stretching
  • eating popcorn and watching a good movie with my partner and dog on the couch
  • the feeling of grass or sand between my toes
  • a glass of really good wine or beer
  • long conversations with good friends
  • surprising someone with a nice gesture
  • the warmth of the sun on my face
  • petting my dog
  • going to bed early and waking up feeling refreshed
  • the feeling of epiphanies or when something clicks

You might notice a lot of these are momentary; simple pauses throughout the day to remind yourself that you love you. Some have to do with connection, and many have to do with eating, which is something I love doing. My day revolves around meals. People who say they forget to eat while they’re working are a mystery to me!

Many also have to do with smell and touch, which are sensory experiences that usually play second fiddle to sight and sound in my life. They’re also all basically free, and most can happen any day.

What pleasures do you take in your day?


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