Many of us set aside a little time in our lives for pleasure. We use the excuse that we simply don’t have the time to have a good time. In fact, we take more than just a touch of pride in letting others know how busy we are – this is a way of telling people that we are productive and vital. Unfortunately, a life that is always busy is also a stressed out life.
This exercise consists of two parts. First, make a list of all of your activities in a typical day and note how much time you spend on each activity. This allows you to see how you spend your days. What you learn may come as a surprise. Now go through the list and find a way to cut half an hour per day out of your normal routine.
Second, spend half an hour per day in an activity that brings you pleasure. There are a couple of rules to follow in coming up with ways to have fun.
- Be sure that you do this pleasure exercise alone. The idea is not to depend on someone else for your pleasure but to rediscover your own sense of play. Look within yourself and find those activities that nurture your own inner nature.
- And make sure that the activities you choose are different every day. This is an exercise in self-discovery, and you might find that there are ways to have fun that you have never considered before. The idea is to lighten up, relax, lose yourself in pleasure, and activate the pleasure centers in your brain. This is the perfect antidote to the routinized and stressful existence that many of us live these days.
So, go ahead. Enjoy a banana split. Try on a cashmere sweater. Take a walk. Look at a view. Play the drums along with the music. Read a short story. Sketch a self-portrait. Take a bubble bath.
Be creative in the ways you find pleasure. Try to find ways of having fun that is close to home. You don’t necessarily want to have to drive somewhere or take out too much time from your daily routine to do this (or else it just becomes another task and may serve to increase stress!). And as you engage in the activity, tell yourself that this is pleasurable. Allow yourself to feel self-nurtured, free, and lost in the moment. Let yourself feel like a child again.