Late last year I bought a latte (since when did coffee get so freakin’ expensive?) from a hipster hangout, where I went to feel cool and write. When I went to take a sip after finishing a satisfying sentence, I was surprised to discover that I’d already finished it.
My fancy coffee was gone. And I didn’t even remember tasting it.
In that moment—while on yet another deadline—it struck me that I’ve been busy for so long that when I’m doing stuff (including fun stuff!), I’m not sure I’m actually enjoying it. I’m not “in it” somehow.
It gave me a niggling feeling that I’m not having the full experience of my life as I’m living it. The tragedy wasn’t the evaporated, expensive drink (although that did leave me bewildered). It was life passing me by while I’m in my head and out of my body somehow. And I know I’m not alone.
I decided I needed something simple and easy to jolt me into the present, while, like everybody else, I’m just trying to make it through the week.It was a word: pleasure.
How much pleasure do you allow yourself to experience? Here are three simple ways to dial it up, pronto:
1. Have a trigger.
Next time you buy a coffee, a salad, a fro-yo—can the very activity itself trigger you into presence? Can the very ritual of it remind you to pause, just for a second, consider the word pleasure, and dig in mindfully to actually enjoy the dang thing?
2. Set reminders.
This might be annoying to some people, but I have an alarm that I set at random times of day that pops up when I least expect it with my one word: PLEASURE. Yesterday I was walking in the rain, and it popped up. I took a deep inhale, looked around, and noticed how much cleaner the city feels after a rainfall. I also remembered how pleasant the smell of rain can be, if you take a proper whiff. Even running an errand in a shower can spark pleasure if you allow it!
Another time, I was with my friends at an outdoor bar. I was on my phone (like most people). Then PLEASURE popped up. I looked up and truly saw my friends' faces. One of them was laughing. In that moment, it was like I was seeing life in high-def. I put my phone down and dove into the guacamole and conversation.
3. Tune into your senses.
Many of us spend a good chunk o’ change on our furniture, threads, and accessories. When was the last time you really felt them?
For example, do you:
- Feel the luxurious thread count of your sheets and cotton pajamas, or just fall into bed in a daze? Once you consider it—what’s better than your cozy, inviting bed at the end of the day?
- Savor the softness of your scarf as it wraps around you and completes your look, or grab it while hollering, “Hold the elevator!”?
- Taste your pasta and sauvignon blanc, or shovel it in while catching up onThe Handmaids Tale? No wonder it’s so easy to overeat!
- Enjoy the scent and texture of applying your hand cream or whack a blob on your palm and toss the tube in your bag? Most hand creams smell divine—we just never sniff them outside of the store we purchase them from on the first day.
- Actually absorb the vibes emanating from your Spotify shuffle or skip, skip, skip until you land on a satisfactory song? Then skip, skip, skip again? Are you actually listening? Chill out and let the playlist surprise you!
Coming back to one word—pleasure—kicks a mundane day into living color. Whether I’m submitting my column, preparing my breakfast, petting my dog, calling my sister, or even sitting on the subway, listening to the hum of the carriage, I remember "pleasure, pleasure, pleasure," and it all feels a little more delicious somehow.
Video: The One Word That Can Unlock Your Potential and Change the World | Lily Ma | TEDxLivoniaCCLibrary
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