So I took my own advice about how to keep that holiday feeling going and challenged myself to notice ten pleasant experiences each day.
Here’s a little sample of them:
Warm breeze on the cycle ride to work
Drinking tea that’s just the right temperature
Sun on my face
Smelling mint and sage in the garden
Dewy wet grass underfoot in the meadow
Tisha’s whiskers glistening in the light
The creamy texture of my porridge
Stroking Tisha’s soft, silky ears
Sinking into bed after a long day, feeling relaxed
Cooling breeze by the river
(Tisha’s my dog, in case you are wondering whose silky ears I have been stroking!)
Taken on their own none of these experiences is particularly remarkable and some are distinctly mundane and unglamourous (eating porridge, cycling to work, walking the dog). They’re just little things that were enjoyable or felt good in some way. Things that I would probably have missed altogether before.
A few things other things I noticed:
- how many of the pleasant experiences were to do with my dog, Tisha. Whether it was stroking her fur, snuggling up together, listening to her soft breathing, or laughing at her silly antics there is no doubt that this little creature brings endless joy into my life.
- the days when I went for a walk in nature it was really easy to notice ten pleasant experiences – in fact I could often notice all ten just on a short walk. This wasn’t really a surprise as I have always known how beneficial being in nature is for me, but it was a good reminder of how important it is to keep including this in my daily routine.
- I had a couple of days when my mood was quite low and on those days it was MUCH more of a struggle to notice pleasant experiences. Or if I did notice something pleasant I couldn’t really let myself savour it. For example at the weekend I went kayaking; it was a beautiful warm end-of-summer evening on a gorgeous stretch of river but instead of enjoying the sights, sounds and sensations I felt stuck in my head, going round and round thinking about a problem. I guess that’s why it’s good to get into the habit of noticing the pleasant, so that it becomes a habit, even when life is hard..
Do I suddenly feel like I’m on holiday all the time and the whole world is brimming with joy and magic? Nope.
Do I feel just a little bit more tuned into the everyday beauty around me? Yup.
And that’s enough, because after all most of our lives are not filled with mind-blowingly exciting or dramatic experiences. It’s the subtle, quiet moments of ease, delight, satisfaction and pleasure that I’m interested in, the ones we can so easily miss when we’re not paying attention.
Did you try the ten pleasant experiences challenge? How did you get on? What did you notice?