Let’s admit it. Finding time to do the things we absolutely need to get done doesn’t always happen. I know I wish there were more hours in a day and I have yet to find someone who is willing to share some of their “leftover” hours with me. Time is short for all of us and it is our most precious commodity.
I will be honest. For years, I hurried through life. I was barely making it through my day, going at the speed of light on some days, let alone having time to doing anything else. My diet was horrible (sure, I will eat that last chicken nugget so as to not waste food), I didn’t make time for exercise (said the former athlete), and I stopped reading anything that didn’t remind me about upcoming parent-teacher conferences or include a baseball schedule.
That was me. Perhaps you can relate a little. Then, due to those same time constraints I found one of my favorite pleasures that is included on this list. And I didn’t just find it…I fell in love with it. Because of that one little thing, I became more aware of other little things that seem to fill my heart with joy in ways nothing else could.
Just in the last few weeks, I have seen a heron glide over a local pond with such grace and stillness that it appeared to be fake. I have seen baby bunnies hop and frolic with one another on a nearby hill. I have had a staring contest with a baby deer as it stumbled onto a park trail.
In short, I have become more in tune with what I have been missing all of these years and have chosen to embrace those moments – to make time for them – when they come. And if it has been too long since I last had one of these temporary reprieves from life, I create my own.
Here are your 9 simple pleasures, in no particular order:
1. Laughing out loud.
We take laughing for granted, although numerous studies have been done to show that laughing is very good for us. Think about it, when was the last time you laughed out loud? More than a giggle and definitely more than a chuckle. One so loud that the person in the next booth could hear you.
Sometimes, those laughs come from something we are watching or just something we hear. Not one of us can watch a YouTube video of four laughing babies laying on the bed with their mom laughing at their dad and not laugh. Plus, laughing is contagious. Soon you won’t laugh alone but your friends and family will join in.
2. Playing with pets.
Who doesn’t love watching animals do funny things, even if we prompt those funny things? Today, a boxer walked up to me and my friend as we were walking and this gorgeous pooch just wanted us to pet her and show her some love.
Having animals to play with brings out the little kid in us all and even if we talk a bit differently (“well, hi shnookums” in our best baby talk), we are all a little better for those few minutes when the rest of the hustle and bustle of life just wasn’t as important as we watched our new friend almost shake herself out of her tail. Although my friend has an affinity for cats, I think she loved this “baby girl” just as much.
3. Dancing to your own beat.
I’m love dancing though I often tell people that a “two-step” has one too many steps for me. Whether it be the last Justin Timberlake song where he “Can’t stop the feeling” or a little Leo Sayer who suggest we “dance the night away” – let the music become one with you and allow it to express itself any way it can.
We love it when we hear songs that we grew up with because not only do they take us back in time, but they also give us a little taste of our own youthfulness. Get your groove on and shake it. It will make you feel better.
4. Holding the hand of someone.
Holding someone’s hand is a way to show your concern for the other person or to remind them they are not alone. But it is not something we usually ask for, it just happens. It connects us without saying anything. It expresses love, comfort, and a sense of belonging that cannot be described. Even if you don’t know the person really well, it connects our human spirit and in that moment, we become one. We become united. We are together.
Aside from a good hug, one of my favorite simple things in life is holding someone’s hand. Not because they asked for it, but because it means a lot to both of us. In addition, when someone reaches for mine, whatever is going on in my heart and head seems to be easier to deal with because I’ve got someone right next to me…just in case.
5. Watching a sunrise or sunset.
Here it is, the one that started it all. My first simple pleasure was found in a simple sunrise. I prefer the sunrise because it signals a new day and beginnings – something to look forward to and the sunset reminds me to take a moment to look back. But having no control over something that happens day after day just reminds me of how big the world can be and the littleness I am next to it.
With the passing of the sun as the Earth revolves around it, I am reminded of time and how quickly it seems to pass as well as how much I wish I could slow it down. But never again I adore the simpleness found in looking towards the horizon as the orange glow rises to say “Hello, World.”
6. Sharing a memory or story.
Too often, we get so caught up in moving forward that we forget to take a look back at where we have come, share an experience, or relive something funny. Sometimes, the specifics aren’t as important as the emotions felt in retelling the story. This connects us to our past in ways we forgot in the fast world of today.
Telling something from years past creates a connection bigger than between a few people – it connects generations and personal history that might otherwise be lost with the passing of the the people who experienced these moments first hand. Sitting together at the dinner table, over a campfire, or even snuggled in bed at night, we all want to hear the retelling of moments that confirm no only who we are but where we come from.
7. Listening to the sounds of life.
This can mean anything from the birds singing to children playing in the sprinkler in your back yard. Taking time to notice and hear these sounds can get drowned out in the echoes we hear every day. Even hearing the sound of the coffee grinding at the local barista can make us appreciate the small things, like a great cup of coffee with someone we love.
Hear the sound of that engine firing up at the race track just down the road, hear the roar of the engine of the airplane soaring overhead, hear the whimper of an infant from the next room as she wakes up from her nap. hear the pitter patter of the feet as he runs down the hall to greet you on Christmas morning. Don’t miss another sound…just listen.
It sounds too good to be true, but smiling is one of life’s easiest and most special ways to communicate with one another. When you surprise your friend at work, what is the first thing you see? You see her smile because in that moment, in addition to the way she looks at you, she tells you, “I’m so glad to see you!”
Smile when your husband takes you out to dinner or gives you a nice back rub after a long day in the office. Smile at people you will never see again – as you do, you connect with them in a way that each of you will remember long after that moment is gone. When you give a smile away, the majority of the time you get one back as an added bonus.
9. Saying “I love you”
Everyone needs to hear these words, several times during our lifetime and they are especially poignant when we aren’t expecting them. Sometimes, saying these three small words can be difficult, but they carry so much power. Sharing them connects us to one another and allows our hearts to not only be heard, but treasured.
It is easy for us to take this phrase for granted as we rush through life as it becomes something more to do out of habit than something we believe in. But love is love. And saying the words, “I love you” to another human being shows us how to be our best selves. Some of us can be afraid to talk about how we feel to the people in our lives, but hearing these words never get old.
There you have it: 9 simple pleasures that make our life better. Ways that we can forget about all of the crazy things going on and the deadlines we are facing and instead think about the moments we really savor in our lives. Life is complicated enough as it is and a good chunk of change is inevitable. But when it comes down to it, there are so many great things out there that we dismiss every day.
When the time comes and we look back on our lives, I hope your life is littered with these simple pleasures – let them serve as a reminder that life isn’t about large or expensive things, in fact, our greatest treasures come from the smallest of places. So let’s slow down enough to witness them, participate in them, and hold onto them as long as we can.
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