There are a multitude of stories, teachings and traditions in our society that instill the unconscious belief that reward only comes through hard work, struggle and/or sacrifice.
Because of this ingrained social pattern, it can be easy to overlook the simple ways we are able and entitled to bring fun, laughter, pleasure and reward into our lives just because we can.
The simple truth is that you deserve to feel good — not because you have earned it, but because you are a precious human being and, remarkably, because your happiness and pleasure is important to your wider community.
Below are some simple, effective and inexpensive ways to create pleasure in your day, and to reward yourself with moments of joy.
Research has shown that living near water can increase an individual’s capacity for wellness, and being immersed in it is even better.
Whether this positive effect is tied to our most fundamental state (floating in the womb) or whether it is the sense of less gravitational force on our bodies, the case is clear — getting yourself wet is a great way to lower stress and increase a sense of well-being.
Although the most powerful way to immerse yourself is outdoors, in an ocean or lake, preliminary research is hinting that even floating indoors, in a salty bath, Jacuzzi or dedicated flotation tank, can lull your mind into a peaceful, meditative state.
Perform an unexpected kindness
Science has revealed the quickest way to increase a sense of personal pleasure, is to do something kind or helpful for someone else.
Kindness is an incredibly powerful social behavior: whether you are performing or receiving an act of kindness, your mind and body reward you with a plethora of positive effects that lead to an increased sense of pleasure and well being.
Most amazing of all, the uplifting effects of kindness extend to people who witness the act. So, if you want to feel really good about life, spread kindness whenever you can and hang out with other kind and generous people.
A fast and simple way to increase your own sense of pleasure, is to grab someone you love and give them a good, long hug. The act of holding someone close, firmly and body-to-body, produces a range of wonderful reactions in your body: it releases oxytocin (allowing us to feel safe and supported), it increases serotonin and lowers cortisol levels (reducing the impact of stress) and even reinforces your bodies immunity (helping you fight off disease and infection).
Recent studies have shown that the closer we live to nature, the more inclined we are to maintain strong mental health, and even live longer! For instance, a series of Swedish studies confirmed that city dwellers are around 75% more susceptible to psychosis and up to 20% more likely to develop depression than people who live in rural areas. Dutch researchers discovered that the incidence of schizophrenia in city-dwellers is double the rate of those who live in the country. And last year, a study of more than 108,000 women in the USA revealed that those with large amounts of greenery in their neighborhood were 12% less likely to die than those with little or no connection to nature.
Your connection to nature is inescapable. At a physical level, you share the same biological systems, behaviors and most of the genetic makeup of your fellow mammals. At a molecular level, you are comprised of six main elements, (from oxygen to phosphorous), each of which is sourced from the planet that we live on.
The fact is, you are nature, and therefore a simple way to bring pleasure into your day is to get out, take your shoes off, and interact with the natural spaces around you.
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and intuitive consultant with over 15 years’ experience as a professional intuitive and spiritual teacher. She combines cutting edge science with traditional spirituality to offer the latest understandings of psi, consciousness and holistic well being.