Everyday Bliss 101
Even when reality depletes our beaming happiness, life still offers simple yet refreshing pleasures.
Think positive? Not always easy. Enjoy every moment? Easier said than done. Just smile? Sometimes a fake one is all we can muster. Find pleasure? Easy as one, two, glee. Even when reality depletes our beaming happiness, life still offers simple yet refreshing and delightful pleasures. Whether it’s the smell of the corner bakery, an under-the-covers match of footsie, or extra whipped-cream on your morning hot coco, pleasure awaits ready for the taking. We just have to indulge.
A Sense of Pleasure
Five of them to be exact. Research on the psychology of pleasure says that each of our five senses unlocks euphoric doors.
We are tactile and texture hungry. Ever wonder why your fingers meander across the display of blankets at Macy*s? Our skin, in addition to covering our bones and muscles, is our largest sensory organ. Scalp to sole, sensitive nerve endings suit every inch of our skin for delight. “Being touched slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure,” says Tiffany Field, PhD, Director of the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine. “It releases serotonin and endorphins…For good physical and mental health, you should get as much touch as you can.” So put down this magazine and give your kids a squeeze. While you watch your favorite flick, ask your sweetie to caress the inside of your wrist, bicep, or earlobe. Then reciprocate.
The nose knows our past. Scent is the first and most powerful sense linked to memory, the gift-wrap of pleasure. Research shows that the amygdala, your brain’s emotional memory vault, is the first area stimulated by pleasurable sensations. The amygdala’s proximity to the brain’s scent receptors explains why this, of all the senses, is most evocative. The uniqueness of our memories replays in our unique (and perhaps irrational) reactions to different scents. The smells that invigorate us are linked to our loves and longings. You will probably always remember what the first meeting between you and your love smelled like. His cologne, aftershave, laundry detergent. Catching another whiff of these scents will always transport you. To identify the scents that lift you highest, surface your happiest memories. What did that moment smell like? Breathe deep.
Mouth watering filet mignon, smooth dark chocolate, juicy fresh peaches. Nothing (almost) can match the rapt gratification of culinary indulgence. Why is taste so intoxicating? Going back to our first sense of pleasure, taste heavily involves texture. Chocolate mousse to the tongue is like silk pajamas to the skin. Whatever your treat of choice, don’t inhale it. Pleasure comes from taking the time to savor what you eat.
Like smells, pleasurable sounds trigger the areas of our brains related to memory and happiness. We’ve all seen – or experienced! – how the sounds of Tina Turner can magically transform you from rush-hour commuter to lead singer in a hit music video. Hearing our favorite songs can transport us, make us forget where we really are. Research actually shows that singing out loud is one of the first signs of real happiness, so belt it out! Then, for another pleasing assignment, venture outdoors. As a part of our DNA, we love nature’s melodies. Go beyond the sounds of suburbia and listen. Leaves rustling in the breeze, water bubbling downstream, and the chorus of birds speak refreshment to the soul. One of my most blissful moments occurred on a 2 AM walk during a Seattle snowfall. We could actually hear new flakes lightly touch down on a five inch blanket of snow.
Eye candy can taste just as sweet as Red Vines®. Feast your eyes and a great view can fill you up, body and soul. Nature, in all her majesty, helps us to “stop and smell the roses” – sometimes literally. Fiery sunsets, lush green hills, an uncurling baby fern. Nature inspires awe and gives us a little piece of something higher. Try to include some elements from the natural environment in your home and workplace. Plants, large windows, photographs of nature, or even an aquarium all inspire pleasure from looking at life.
From sensual to sporty, intellectual to irrational, we uncover just a few of the hidden and lost treasures of everyday. Feel free to add, adapt, and borrow.
- A closer than necessary whisper.
- The melody of raindrops pelting a window.
- Getting your hair cut just for the sudsy scalp massage.
- The touch of warm sun on your bare skin.
- Crunching autumn leaves underfoot. It’s not just for kids.
- A long run that, for some reason, felt effortless.
- Singing in the shower. Singing in the car. Heck, just belting it out anywhere!
- A brand new pair of shoes.
- Lingerie shopping, just for fun.
- Breakfast for dinner.
- The warm glow from a space heater when dining al fresco.
- Throwing things away!
- Baking anything. And of course tasting the pre-oven version.
- Wearing luscious red lipstick, just because you want to.
- A hotdog and nachos at your favorite sporting event.
- In-N-Out Burger at 1AM. It kindof makes you feel like a rock star.
- Checking off the last thing on a “to-do” list.
- Walking down the coffee aisle at the grocery store. Breathe deep.
- Finishing the Sunday crossword.
- Stargazing. Everything but the sky stands still.
- Watching someone you love get dressed for an evening out.
- A perfect serve in tennis.
- A warm shirt, just out of the dryer.
Making a personal list of things that excite, ignite, and tempt you!
We all experience moments like the ones listed above. Everyday moments drenched in nostalgia that flood your heart and tickle your senses. By making a “Bliss List” all your own, you can ignite the passions that make you purr. Start right now to rediscover your unique fetishes and take part in the everyday bliss that awaits your partaking.