Simple pleasures are free or low-cost reminders of the joy to be found in every day living. They allow us to stop our mind’s busyness for a moment, breathe more deeply, be thankful and gain perspective.
Here’s my list of 30 simple pleasures, developed with the assistance of Evolution Emptor’s Facebook fans and some academic literature.
1 Surround yourself with nature
Natural environments, in comparison to urban environments, have been found to have restorative effects. Even a study that placed plasma TV windows in windowless offices to provide ‘views’ of parks and mountains found the workers to have greater wellbeing and clearer thinking, though it was concluded that virtual nature is no substitute for actual nature in terms of psychological benefit.
2 Listen to music
Music therapists working in palliative care settings find music helps ease anxiety and pain in their terminally ill patients. Exposure to music has also been found to improve student recall and memory, help relax women in labour and calm psychiatric prisoner patients.
3 Be present in the moment
Being present is about paying attention to what is happening around you at any particular moment, rather than ruminating on things that have happened in the past or worrying about the future. By avoiding distraction, we are able to focus fully and become more productive and engaged.
Though based on ancient Eastern traditions and philosophies, there is now increasing scientific evidence that mindfulness training and meditation change the structure of the brain to improve wellbeing, quality of life and reduce stress levels.
4 Get out in the sunshine
We rely on exposure to the sun for production of Vitamin D, which has been linked to healthy bone development, muscle strength, balance and blood pressure as well as good mental health. Many Australians are Vitamin D deficient without supplements as we understandably avoid long periods in the sun for fear of sunburn and skin cancers.
Though a 2001 study found no conclusive empirical evidence to support the claim, the idea of laughter as ‘medicine’ for stress, improved immune system functioning, physical and mental health has persisted through history. Regardless, who doesn’t feel great after a good laugh! Take a look at this short video.
6 A glass of wine. 7 An open fire. 8 Blow bubbles. 9 Chocolate. 10 Clean sheets.
11 Coffee with a friend. 12 Dance. 13 Exercise. 14 Kick a ball with kids. 15 Meditate.
16 Plant a garden. 17 Read. 18 Ride a bicycle. 19 Hug a pet. 20 Visualize your dreams.
21 Sketch. 22 Snooze in a hammock. 23 Stare out to sea. 24 Sex. 25 Swat a fly or mosquito.
26 Take a bath. 27 Sing. 28 Stars in the night sky. 29 Watch a baby sleep. 30 Work with your hands.
Which of these 30 simple pleasures resonate best with you? Are there more you would add?