In my previous post I mentioned that I had started reading The Book of Joy. I then read an online article with the title: Why Small Pleasures Are a Big Deal (you can read it here). Both these reads have given me cause to reflect more seriously on what makes me happy and I’ve decided to create a regular post devoted to Simple Pleasures. I want to highlight the simple things in my life that transform the mundane into the sublime, hopefully without coming across all precious and twee (I promise I won’t start referring to myself as blessed, Kiera!). I hope to add at least one a week until I run out of ideas. I’ve also created a page where I’ll list simple pleasures as they arise.
Please feel free to comment – I would love to hear your take on this.
According to Why Small Pleasures Are a Big Deal:
We’re surrounded by some powerful ideas about the sort of things that will make us happy. We think that really to deliver satisfaction, the pleasures we should aim for need to be: Rare, Expensive, Famous and Large Scale.
As a result: if someone says they’ve been on a trip to Belize by private jet we automatically assume they had a better time that someone went to the local park by bike; we imagine that visiting the Uffizi gallery in Florence is always going to be nicer than reading a paperback novel in the back garden. A restaurant dinner at which Lobster Thermidor is served sounds a good deal more impressive than a supper of a cheese sandwich at home; it feels more normal that the highlight of a weekend should be a hang-gliding lesson, rather than a few minutes spent looking at the cloudy sky; it feels odd to suggest that a modest vase of lily of the valley (the cheapest bloom at many florists) might yield more satisfaction than a Van Gogh original.
A pleasure may look very minor – eating a fig, having a bath, whispering in bed in the dark, talking to a grandparent, or scanning through old photos of when you were a child – and yet be anything but: if properly grasped and elaborated upon, these sort of activities may be among the most moving and satisfying we can have.
Appreciating small pleasures means trusting our own responses a little more. We can’t wait for everything that is lovely and charming to be approved by others before we allow ourselves to be enchanted. We need to follow the muted signals of our own brains and allow that we are onto something important, even though others may not yet be in agreement.
We are dominated by striving: for better relationships, work and personal lives. Restless, we think, is synonymous with success. Nothing should be good enough for long. But, in so concerning ourselves with unattainable levels of excellence, we overlook more modest pleasures, closer to home.
So here goes: my first simple pleasure of the day is a ritual which usually involves being served a steaming hot mug of tea in bed when I wake up. I lie in bed while Peter gets up to put the kettle on and let the dogs out. After that he feeds them and the birds and then he brings me tea in my special fine bone china mug (a gift from Susannah). After 3 mugs of tea and 3 pages of writing, I’m ready to face the day.
I have never been a morning person so to be able to lie in bed, write my morning pages, gaze dreamily out of the window at the birds in the garden and drink tea without any pressure to do otherwise is my idea of bliss. It doesn’t happen every day and, to be honest, when it does I mostly take it for granted. However since I’m making more of a concerted effort to appreciate small pleasures, this is one to be savoured, especially if there is a homemade rusk or two thrown in for good measure. Thanks, Pete.