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Three Ways to Find Pleasure and Joy


After years spent relying on food for pleasure and joy, many clients have difficulty boosting their spirits in other ways. They look for quick, easy highs from shopping, flirting or even sex. Not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying any of these activities. But, in the long run, there are better ways to enjoy healthy pleasure on a regular basis. 

While talking with several clients about this subject, I started thinking about a method to find pleasure that many dysregulated eaters would never have thought of. Whether you’re learning a new craft or skill—alone or with others—or resuming a hobby from years ago, it helps to seek enjoyment three ways: during the process of engagement, through the progress you make while doing something, and via the finished product.

For example, my client Nona decided to take a pottery class. She’s a creative type but working with clay was new to her. In the beginning when she wasn’t very skilled and was down on herself because of that, I helped her focus on enjoying the activity in the moment and forget about how well or poorly she was doing or how a piece might turn out. I call this finding pleasure in the process of doing which involves mindfulness and literally losing yourself in the moment. Nona knew she was immersed in the process when she was no longer comparing her work to that of others in her class.

Over time, Nona surprised herself at being a quick learner and, under the guidance of her teacher, picking up techniques she’d never dreamed of using. She was thrilled at being able to try new approaches and succeed and didn’t mind as much when she failed or her efforts didn’t measure up to her hopes. She found pleasure in simply improving at something she enjoyed. Making progress in itself brought her happiness.

Which isn’t to say that Nona wasn’t over the moon when something turned out perfect or near perfect. She felt joy at what she’d produced and proud of herself for sticking with the process in order to improve her skill. She felt pride that she’d overcome frustration to create something beautiful to look at and treasure. Because she was learning to seek approval more inwardly, she felt less of a need for the finished product to be admired by others. It was enough to feel pleased with what she’d done and therefore she sought less praise from others, a new experience for her.

Try learning something new or doing something that brings you pleasure. First, pay attention to and enjoy the process. Then enjoy the progress, however minor, you make. Finally, feel joy at the end product you’ve produced—a necklace or a win for your team. Engaging in these three stages is how to find pleasure and joy outside the refrigerator.