One cold afternoon I went for a walk to the local library. There I allowed my fingertips to find my path among the books. One of the many that I brought home that day was Eat Mangos Naked by Sark. If you have never randomly perused a bookstore or library, allowing the right book to spark your soul’s interest … I highly encourage you to do so. It is very therapeutic and enlightening.
I flipped open the book and instantly fell in love. It was done in a manner that made it look hand written in a myriad of colored pens! Then this quote jumped off the page at me:
We can dance through our lives and still be “responsible”. (Sark)
I knew right away this was the book for me. I have spent the last few years undoing decades of expectations laid on me by others. Now, I try to be true to myself but living four decades with a sense of obligation can be difficult to change.
Pleasure and joy live in all of the corners and crevices too, not just bright sunlight. We must learn to cultivate please and invite it into all the places in our lives, no matter what else is happening. (Sark)
This is so true. If we focus only on the facts that there are bills to be paid, work responsibilities, our children have their own struggles, as do our partners and friends, we can fall into the trap of thinking that “life is hard”. I know that I was raised with that mentality. It was almost as though pleasure was something to be avoided. Treated as though it was something reserved for other people, people who were better than us in some way.
I find it sad that the area I grew up in was just poor enough that this was the mentality. I know life was hard for so many of us. Financial struggles were very common, as were drugs, alcoholism, abuse, and suicide. It seemed as though if someone had a moment of happiness others reminded them of how hard life was for the sole purpose of robbing them of joy. If only we could have learned to appreciate those moments of joy how many of us could have changed our outlook and struggles?
Pleasure loves company and delights in being discovered! It’s good to keep a journal or notes about pleasure. That way, you will retain or strengthen your pleasure perspective. This involves noticing joy in tiny places and magnifying it. (Sark)
In my late teens I became suicidally depressed. This continued for many years. Therapy was somewhat helpful, but like many who first enter therapy I found it hard to perform full disclosure of my thoughts and emotions. Medication was a huge roller coaster ride. Somewhere in this I discovered the idea of a pleasure journal. I had no idea what happiness was or how to find it. So, I began with remembering and listing things/activities that made me happy in high school (I was now in college) and trying things that girls my age enjoyed. There was a lot of joy in this activity, as well as the blessed peace of pen against paper.
She then goes on to discuss the art of giving and receiving.
Giving creates a bond, an exchange and an opportunity to be generous. Pleasure in giving stops when we do it compulsively, with obligation, or in order to “get something” in return. (Sark)
How many times have you felt obligated to push your bank account past the point of reason? Or purchased a gift for someone that you did not really like? Destroyed your finances over the holidays instead of telling extended family you did not have the money? Sound familiar? We have all been in these situations of expected giving. The joy and pleasure in giving a gift from the heart is gone in these situations.
As for receiving, there seems to be a social taboo on receiving with grace. Whatever happened to a simple, but heartfelt, thank you? Instead, there is often the self depreciating statement mixed in with a thank you. How can you receive with more grace? I know that I want Princess Superhero to be gracious at receiving, so I am teaching her to accept compliments with grace by simply stating thank you. I hope to help her avoid the self depreciating statements, as each one of us is better than that.
To stop the self depreciating statements, I look in the mirror each day and I find one nice thing to say to myself. If I dress in an outfit that makes me feel unsatisfied in some way, I change until I find one that works. If I find myself thinking negative self thoughts, I turn it into a mantra “I love myself” or the positive of what I am thinking. For example if I look in the mirror and think, I am ugly I stop and say I am beautiful until that tightness eases. This is far from easy but it does make a huge different in the mindset.
I wrote down many quotes and have so many thoughts and memories from what I ready. So, I will leave you with this for now … How can you find one moment of pleasure in a crappy day?