Thursday, November 6, 2008

Simple Pleasures

Too often we seek out the most exciting activities and surroundings and forget about the simple things in life.

Or we get so bogged down with the stress and the mundane details of our jobs and daily lives, we sometimes forget about the little things that make us happy.

It seems that as adults we lose some of our ability to enjoy the simple pleasures. Think back to when you were a kid. You were easily entertained. You were happy just licking an ice cream cone that was dripping down your arm or lying in the grass looking up at the clouds.

Now, it seems that if it doesn't involve a high definition television or a plane trip, we act like it's not worth doing.

There is certainly a monetary aspect to seeking out fun and entertainment. When we have money to burn, we want to spend it on nice things and good times, and why not? We work hard, and we deserve it. We feel we need to do something big to compensate for the dull and often challenging daily grind.

We need to spend more time focusing on life's simple pleasures. We need to stop and smell the flowers once in a while. Or walk on the beach and enjoy the feel of our toes squishing into the wet sand. Or hold a purring kitten.

Ditch the dinner plans at the fancy restaurant and just grab a couple of burgers and dine under the stars.

The really great thing about simple pleasures is that they are all around us. You don't have to go far or work hard to find them. And they usually cost nothing.

Some of my favorite simple pleasures are picking lilacs in the spring, going barefoot in summer, rubbing my cat's soft belly, staying up late to finish a crossword, rock hunting in the creek at the park near my home and going for a drive to look at houses.

Taking the time to savor simple pleasures is important to our well-being. It can give us much needed relaxation and stress relief. It can give us warm feelings and help us to maintain a positive outlook on life.

If you don't know where to start, here are a few ideas:

Go for a walk. Getting outside into the fresh air and just walking with no particular destination is a great stress reliever. It gives you time to think (and you'll burn off some calories).

Go to the park. Lots to do and no charge for admission, parks are an awesome source of simple pleasures. Bring a bag lunch and sit in the grass. Soak in the relaxed atmosphere and the nature. Bring some nuts so you can feed the squirrels. Take a walk and look at the trees and listen to the birds. Toss a ball or frisbee with the kids or dog.

Connect with your inner child. Visit a place you used to go to when you were a kid that was special to you. Go to a playground and swing on a swing. Let that awesome feeling of soaring through the air free your mind and take you back to when life was simpler and you didn't have all the stress.

Doodle and daydream. Draw silly pictures or make lists of all your favorite things - songs, movies, memories. Write down all the little things that make you happy - a baby's smile, a light rainfall - whatever you can think of. Make a list of your hopes and dreams.

Follow your nose. Get some aromatherapy into your life to enhance your mood. Certain fragrances are known to relieve stress and have a calming effect. Fill your home with your favorites.

Do something nice for someone. One of the greatest simple pleasures is giving someone a gift or doing something for them. It makes them happy, and it makes us feel good.

Life's little pleasures are easy to find and enjoy. They help us slow the pace, feel better, connect with our past and make new memories. They remind us just how wonderful life is.

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