“Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.”― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
The other day, I was sitting at our kitchen counter eating lunch when all of a sudden I had an epiphany: I felt really good! I felt relaxed, genuinely happy, and at peace. In the year 2020, leading up to an election, during a pandemic, and while many, many other very significant events are happening, I was happy.
And then, of course, the guilt started creeping in.
How was I happy right now? Who gave me permission to feel good? What makes me think I deserve to be happy?
Maybe you’ve had the same experience. You’re sitting there, feeling really content, and all of a sudden you feel that pang of guilt and start recalling all the reasons you shouldn’t be happy. I certainly hope you haven’t, but unfortunately I think we all have been there at some point. Here’s the thing, though: those little everyday pleasures should be celebrated and considered a crucial part of everyday life.
The Anatomy of a Simple Pleasure
Let’s set aside the guilty feelings and discuss what pleasure really means: enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one’s liking; gratification; delight. Thanks, dictionary.com! When I read that definition, I immediately realized that pleasure is nothing to be scared about. I mean, who can be upset with the word “delight?”
As I was eating lunch, I noted several things were going on that gave me such delight/pleasure/gratification:
First, I was eating some delicious and nutritious Panera soup (or so I like to think). Specifically, their spicy, satisfyingly salty Ten Vegetable soup and a crisp, crunchy, refreshing Green Goddess Cobb salad. What I love about this salad in particular is that the dressing is creamy and the pickled onions provide a nice tangy punch. It’s just a nice salad. Next, there was a lovely piece of french baguette to go with it. Don’t even get me started on how much I love bread. Talk about delight! Finally, I ALSO had a chocolate chip cookie. I know, I really went wild. Sometimes, you just want a cookie. Side note: I only ate half the cookie. I saved the other half for my husband, because I love him, and you should share nice things with people you love (and I had already eaten so much bread I couldn’t eat the whole cookie).
Second, I was reading a book. The particular book that I was reading was an oldie but a goodie – The Secret Garden. The way that author Frances Hodgson Burnett describes the main character, Mary Lennox, and her experience moving from British India to England, is truly inspiring. Not just because Mary overcomes many obstacles such as having some pretty darn terrible parents, a strange uncle, and lots of mystery surrounding her, but mainly because Mary finds simple pleasure in the most ordinary situations. Take for example her friendship with a robin. She literally becomes friends with a bird. I can’t remember the last time I really looked at a bird, unless it was doing something gross or annoying. Imagine taking the time to befriend one?! There would be patience, observation, and lots of tweeting involved. And I don’t mean the kind of tweeting that requires a smartphone.
Anyway, back to the book. The very act of reading is a pretty relaxing endeavor, but so are the lovingly crafted thoughts and ideas, especially in this sweet story. At one point, Mary receives a jump rope, and spends literally all day just jumping around. Her cheeks get rosy, her mood is improved, and she didn’t even have to post it on Instagram to realize it was valuable. All I’m saying is…it’s never too late to pick up a good book!
The final part of my delightful lunch equation was that the screen door to our kitchen was open. I could hear the sounds of the breeze blowing by, cars honking, birds tweeting, and dogs barking. And it was like having a symphony of real life in the background. A fascinating mixture of white noise and the reality of living by a busy street with lots of activity. Who would have thought that would provide such a peaceful environment to read and eat my lunch? Certainly not me, a few months ago.
The truth is, it was a delightful, gratifying, dare I say it pleasurable lunch break. It was so simple, yet so rich with flavors, sounds, smells, and the feel of the yellowed pages of the book in my fingers.
Maybe, like Mary in The Secret Garden, we are ultimately responsible for creating such moments as these. Maybe it is a sacred privilege that we have as humans. Maybe we need to put the phone down, step away from the computer, turn off the TV, and sit for a moment and remember the magic that is a simple pleasure.
It’s not easy. Believe me, I know. I am constantly feeling pulled to my phone, whether there’s a message or not. Maybe I’ll find satisfaction in clicking on the next link to the next Pinterest pin, or maybe if I watch enough episodes of my favorite TV show I’ll feel better. Today, though, I realized what is really true – finding pleasure in the basic parts of my day is where I will find peace, be delighted, and feel whole again.
Enough about me, though, what about you? What delights you? Certain scents? Flavors? Sounds? Sights? Do you also love to read? I hope you will consider this a gentle reminder to slow down for a moment and enjoy a simple pleasure of your own. It could simply be burning your favorite candle while you get ready in the morning, adding cream to your coffee, or cuddling up with a good book by a window. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, I believe we can find the magic of a simple pleasure in the day somewhere.
What about the gifts you give? Are they providing simple moments of pleasure and peace for your friends and family? Are you seeking simple gifts to give this fall? Breeze on over to the shop and check out everything from lovingly handcrafted candles to scarves knitted with solar power, and more! And if you need some help finding the best gift, please reach out to me. It would honestly make my day!