PSA: Simple Pleasures Are Abundant [and Free]
Pleasure: a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.
One thing that brought me the most pleasure during this past year was settling deeper into an appreciation of the slow and the quiet. With a limited energetic capacity for pouring my full self into all of the things waving for my attention, I found myself saying yes to less with the intention of enabling myself to give more to fewer things. It’s that old “quality over quantity” thing, and it turns out that there’s something to it.
Choosing to take on less opens up space — in time and in energetic capacity — to commit more to the priorities. By clearing out and opening up more space, room is made for things of greater importance to life’s present moment, and invite in more token moments — simple pleasures.
Treat-yourself kind of simple pleasures
In last week’s blog post, I shared one form of a simple pleasure that I’ve been practicing for myself that looks something like
stopping into the store for some groceries,
walking past the floral section and spotting a one-and-only bouquet of yellow roses,
feeling overwhelmed by a deep sense of joy because those roses remind me of my grandmother who’s gone,
feeling my grandmother present in that moment,
honoring her by taking those yellow roses home with me so that I can think of her all week.
I call this practice simple pleasure expenses; allowing myself to purchase something [usually relatively inexpensive, like flowers, or beeswax candles, or a special pantry item] especially when it feels like a portal to experiencing my ancestors.
[last week’s “simple pleasure expense” —yellow roses in honor of my late grandmother.]
Eight days later and those yellow roses are still bringing me joy on my kitchen table and on my ancestral altar next to my grandmother’s picture. I really do credit the practice of slower living for my :30 second séance in the flower section of the grocery store and for giving me the receptivity for making a point of connection with one of my ancestors.
The real joy is in the free part
The real magic of that experience though was the moment when I first saw the roses and felt my grandmother’s presence; the decision to buy the flowers and bring them home with me was an additional layer to that simple pleasure that extended the feeling of joy [by eight days so far...]. In other words, the simple pleasure was actually free — it cost nothing to stand in the grocery store and admire those flowers and feel my grandmother through them. The real joy didn’t come from buying them but rather it bloomed out of that split-second moment of noticing them which instantly evoked a treasured memory.
So, what I’ve come to realize about this practice of experiencing simple pleasures is that, in essence, they are magical experiences granted to us in exchange for only our presence. The beauty of simple pleasures is that they’re uncomplicated and they are everywhere if we’re open to receiving them. Although simple, by definition, they are absolutely extraordinary in that they can be unique, brief, fleeting moments — or a series of — that are witnessed by your unique senses, in your unique present moment.
A monthly drop of simple pleasure
If you’re a reader of my monthly Full Moon Circle newsletter, then you’re familiar with the Simple Pleasures segment which was created when I relaunched the newsletter in October of 2020 after eight long months away. The Simple Pleasures segment is intended to be a moment of pause, a joyful experience of taking in beauty via written word, or visual arts, or music, or anything sensually delightful that costs nothing. As an artist that is also, quite frankly, a micro business with things to sell you, it’s felt especially important to me to make an offering to you that is completely free; thus, the creation of the Simple Pleasures newsletter feature.
The abundant presence of small, magic moments
Another free offering and creative outlet I took pleasure in in 2020 was what I call “:60 seconds of simple pleasures”, which I have come to define as “visual compilations acknowledging and appreciating a series of small, magic moments”. These are one minute or less long videos [that I share on my Instagram] comprised of five-second observations of beauty and wonder in my present moment. So far, subjects have ranged from meal preparation in my kitchen, textures, shadow play, and moments in the garden, also with an ASMR auditory element of wind, rain, soup bubbling on the stove, and local bird song.
In an age where everything has been commodified, it feels of utmost importance to remind you that pleasure is free. While I find joy and connection and comfort in things and experiences that I’ve purchased [like the “simple pleasure expense” of yellow roses], there is an added sense of pleasure in the liberation of feeling joy at no cost. Simple pleasures are everywhere, waiting for you, when you are open to receiving them.
Close your eyes and acknowledge three sounds you hear right now, in your present moment.
Gaze out a window for one minute. Watch the wind, the birds, other people, the light dancing off of things. What do you notice? What feelings come up for you?
List five [things and/or sensations] that bring you the greatest sense of pleasure.