having a variety of pleasurable activities is an asset you'll want to cultivate
When you think about health and wellness, what comes to mind? Exercise, meditation, massage, eating well? What about just feeling good– are you prioritizing joy and pleasure for yourself?
Learning to allow ourselves to feel good doesn’t come easy for some of us, especially those of us who have a history of traumatic stress or anxiety, but it’s so important for our well-being and for the greater good. I’ve been listening to The Finding Our Way podcast with Prentis Hemphill. In this episode, she’s interviewing Vanessa Rochelle Lewis, who teaches folks how to “reclaim their ugly.” Vanessa speaks to the importance of feeling good as a means to a healthier society:
I believe that a lot of us make decisions based off of what we have been socialized to believe as right, as moral, as good, this is the way things should be. And a lot of times ‘the way things should be’ don’t actually serve our joy, or our capacity to be good to ourselves or other people. And so I want people to be able to slow down, to move away from what they’ve been taught and connect to what feels good to them in their heart, what feels gravy for them in their body, and to trust and honor the divinity and the brilliance of their intuition, the brilliance of their desire to feel good..
When we’re looking at what does it mean to feel good, what does it mean to create a world where we’re not interfering with other people’s ability to feel good, we’re going to experience a lot more peace. We’re going to experience the space and the resource to make systemic choices, to make structural choices in our families and our organizations and our lives, to imagine…and to facilitate a world that is less rooted in oppression, less rooted in harm, and more rooted in good, loving compassion. I was recently introduced to the idea of “diversifying your joy portfolio.” The idea is that the greater variety of things we have in our lives that bring us pleasure, the better-resourced we are for those days when things don’t feel so great or life goes a little upside down. In thinking about the things in my life that bring me joy, I came up with five categories to help diversify our joy portfolios:
1. Movement: this could be gardening, joyful movement, play, a sweaty training session at the gym, a walk in the park. How can you use your body in a way that feels pleasurable and fun?
2. Social Connection: in-person, on the phone, letters, a surprise gift, a coffee date, FaceTime, cuddling or snuggling your furry companions.
3. Restful/Introspective Activities: a snuggly nap, journaling, meditation restorative yoga, an hour on the couch with your favorite reading material, a relaxing bath. These are activities that are restful for your body/mind or allow you to spend quiet time nurturing that connection.
4. Work/Hobbies/Intellectual Stimulation: Maybe you love Words with Friends, or History Channel bios. Learning a new language or skill. What tickles your brain and feels fun? What gets you in a “zone”?
5. Sensual Nourishment: cooking or eating a delicious meal, aromatherapy, a massage. Think things that just feel good to your body.
How can you diversify your joy portfolio?
Make a list of your own joy activities. If this feels hard, ask yourself, what brings me pleasure in my day? What feels ‘gravy’ in my body? What do I enjoy doing, even if I haven’t been doing it lately?
Take a look and see in which category your joy activities fall. Are you someone who gravitates toward work? Do you spend a lot of time indulging in sensual nourishment, but not so much time connecting with others?
Find areas where you’re not spending as much time, and come up with two or three joy activities to prioritize in those areas. Then, schedule them into your week and follow through.
Whether it’s a scheduled activity or a surprise moment of joy, take an extra two minutes to let it soak in: pause, notice the feeling of pleasure or joy in your body. Imagine it soaking in or spreading through your body. This helps the feeling to stay with us longer. Click here for a guided meditation to practice this!