How to Find Pleasure in Anything
I found this concept intriguing, especially in the context of living a more fulfilling life. Just how do you find pleasure in anything? You don't have to teach kids how to do it. In fact, perhaps they could teach us. I’m sure there are multiple ways to find pleasure in anything, but one rises to the surface.
It begins by slowing your life down enough to notice and then, be thankful for it. If we live life at the appropriate pace, we see more, hear more, smell more, taste and touch more. So, it makes sense that the slower our pace, the keener our observations, the sharper our insights, and the deeper our sense of gratitude.
I often write on my patio, like today, along a tree line adjacent to a park. The other day I just sat in my cushy swivel patio chair and closed my eyes, focusing only on what I could hear and smell: fresh air—the refreshing scent of summer, the wind gently whispering between the leaves on the trees, the call of a cardinal, the coo of a mourning dove, the squawk of a sandhill crane, the piercing screech of a young hawk, the song of the robin and red-winged blackbird, and the incessant whine of a blue jay. The woods was in full chorus.
When I opened my eyes I saw the vivid color of a random butterfly as it flittered by, and a bright yellow goldfinch, performing its roller-coaster flight pattern like it was in an air show.
Every day a drama unfolds in the sky or woods before me. I’ve noticed the strategy of the birds as they set up territories, posting sentinels in key positions in trees and my rooftop, and then triggering an alarm system to protect others whenever a hawk enters their air space. I’ve observed birds dive bomb the hawk, almost landing in its back to drive it out of their territory.
“Happiness comes not from having much to live on
but having much to live for.”
It’s easy to miss the drama—or the beauty—since the pace of my life often doesn’t allow me to slow down enough to simply notice. There is always something more important, urgent, or distracting that must be done.
By slowing the pace of my life, I found I can more easily find pleasure in almost anything, like: the joyful squeal of young kids at play, teens playing basketball in the driveway next door, having lunch with a friend at a quaint outdoor café or a park with a warm breeze blowing through my hair, getting lost on a country road, taking a walk on a cool morning, enjoying the thrill of a bike ride down a steep hill, or relishing a root beer shake on a hot August afternoon. Pick your pleasure.
It’s not that I haven’t noticed these things before. It’s just that I hadn’t taken enough time to drink it in—to actually let them register. One writer calls it, "The Art of Noticing.” It's like the first time my family upgraded from a black & white to a color TV. (A long time ago, I know.) Suddenly, I noticed everything on screen—the foreground and the background—everything felt real and relevant.
When I slow my life down enough to notice things, I mean really notice them, I cross the threshold from being “vaguely aware” to an “expert witness.” And who doesn’t want to witness their world—at least the beauty in it?
By slowing your life down—just a notch—you’re poised to find pleasure in anything.
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON: During the next week, try slowing down one area of your life. What do you notice by altering the pace of your life? Jot down two things that you noticed only in passing before, but now experienced more pleasure by simply slowing down. (i.e., eating slower—on a patio, enjoying extended time with your family or pet, calling or writing an old friend, taking a walk along the beach, enjoying a relaxing bike ride, etc.)
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