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I often hear from clients that they seek food for pleasure when they have nothing to look forward to. I wonder how they have so narrowly constructed their lives to have so little joy, fun, and satisfaction. Most of them can’t wait for vacations, looking forward to them for months ahead of time, but such time away or off is over in a flash. What about the days they’re not on vacation? Why not put a bit more punch into them to prevent unwanted eating?
I was thinking about this issue when a close friend told me on the phone that she was resuming horse-back riding after a three-year hiatus. She was excited talking about having done it once recently and feeling that she couldn’t wait to do it again. I could feel her anticipation through the phone lines.
Our conversation got me thinking of an elderly woman I knew in Boston who walked with a cane due to having had polio as a child. She delighted in the small pleasures of the day. She loved to begin it by reading the Boston Globe which she did cover to cover. Then she would grab her cane and check on how her neighbors were doing, sometimes going into their apartments for a chat with one or two of them and a second dose of coffee. She loved her afternoon cup of tea and doing the daily crossword puzzle and going out for a short walk, weather permitting, in the afternoons. And she was delighted when someone took her out for dinner, shopping or to a movie. She had what some would call a restricted life, but I knew she enjoyed most days.
So, why is it that many of you who are able of mind and body, aren’t living lives of heightened pleasure—creative pursuits, friends, being part of groups, enjoying nature, reading, volunteering, seeing movies? My list could go on and on. I’m betting that you’ll say that you have no time or money for such frivolity. You’re too busy with the kids or your job (or both) and bushed at the end of the day. You’re on a budget and there’s no money for you to do things you enjoy. I understand that you are tired, and that money is tight, but that just means you need to think outside the box about how to find more joy.
What brought you pleasure as a child or earlier in life? Many folks say enjoying nature. If that’s you, get off your duff and go find something fun to do out in greenery. Other people say socializing and that now they have only one or two friends. In that case, join a group that does interesting things, even low-cost ones. Still, other folks miss how they used to be creative with writing or the arts. If you miss being creative, carve out time for it. My aunt painted late at night when the family was asleep or during the hours when her kids were in school. She made time because painting brought her such delicious joy. Find pleasure every day. Really, is that such a hard thing to do?
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