This year's resolution was to indulge in more sacred simple pleasures, those things that make every day magical and remind us that pleasure is an integral part of life, love, and happiness. Why? Because pleasure is significantly undervalued in our society. Because pleasure tells us a lot about ourselves--our values and priorities. Because it is okay to let go of toxic things in favor of radical joy.
Sounds delicious, right? And it is…when I have been able to celebrate this hedonism without censure or guilt. Or better still, when I can know what actually is pleasurable versus what I think should be pleasurable. Let’s just say I’ve learned a thing or two about my relationship to pleasure now that I’m roughly halfway through my year of focusing on it. You might think that because I write about everyday magic that I’ve got things all figured out. Well, I don’t! In fact never have I realized this more than in my efforts to cultivate sacred simple pleasures.
When I first started this exploration of sacred simple pleasure in January, I was coming off of a big year for me: my first book was published and had won the first of what would become many awards. I had won a major teaching award, too, and accomplished many other wonderful things in my career. All good things, but I found myself looking for balanced come the new year. All those accomplishments took serious fire energy, years of conjuring and concentration, before they came to fruition. I now needed to turn my time and attention to the gentler things in life: unstructured time, everyday joys, more passive experiences. In short, I needed to create space for possibility in my life.
It was hard at first. For as much as I write about the divine feminine and the softer energies in our lives, I realized just how much masculine energy I had. I was used to being assertive, aggressive in my pursuit of what I wanted. But the cultivation of sacred simple pleasures was entirely different. For one thing, the energy was much more passive than I was used too. I had to cultivate openness, receptivity which in itself felt intensely vulnerable. I was a novice in many respects here when I was used to being an expert. For another, I learned quickly that more people, more activities, more out-there energy didn’t necessarily invoke the sacredness of simple pleasures. In fact, it was the opposite: I was tired, anxious, and in need of some serious quiet time.
Through these two misconceptions about simple pleasures—that they are loud, performative things and that I can access with the same masculine energy I applied to my professional life—I quickly learned that I had to change my relationship to pleasure. Simple pleasures, for me, were found in quiet innocuous things: morning walks, sipping iced tea on my patio, a schedule-free Sunday, the magic of a good book.
They didn’t cost money or company to bring me pleasure.
A lot of different emotions have come up in the process—not all of them pleasant—as I come to terms with the fact that I have denied myself certain pleasures or suppressed parts of myself in order to fit into mainstream extroverted culture. There is joy in these epiphanies too, however bittersweet. They allow me to acknowledge past limitations so I can move forward unshackled.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase too: to allow. It’s been popping up all over the place. What am I allowed energetically, emotionally, physically? Or put more accurately, what have I allowed myself to enjoy? The painful epiphany that emerged from these questions was that I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy certain things without even realizing that I’ve drawn a line in the sand. It’s a subtle thing—telling yourself you have to work instead of watching the sunset, letting stress taint your thoughts because you can’t possibly be this happy, being stingy with your fun because there’s so many other things you should be doing. Hell, I didn’t even know I was doing it half the time until I started making a conscious effort to create space for non-goal oriented pleasure this year.
Much of this comes from the cultural shame surrounding pleasure. If it feels good, mainstream religion tells us, it must be bad. Or think of the Puritanical roots of white American. If it’s enjoyable, it’s certainly the sowing seeds of sin. Worst of all, I’ve realized that the fear of pleasure is a fear of happiness. We spend so much time worrying about wether or not we will get our HEA (Happily Ever After) or finally Arrive that we never stop to think about how much those things terrify us. We wonder, secretly, if we are capable of holding so much joy.
So how do we tap into sacred simple pleasures with the myriad of feelings they unleash? Simple. Dive in. Without thought or questions. Unfettered by the fear of our own infinite potential for happiness. Be sinful. Shamelessly enjoy the small pleasures you have denied yourself in your own unconscious attempt to put a limit on happiness. Welcome in bigger pleasures too.
We’re allowed infinite pleasures, infinite happiness.
Find just one little thing you enjoy and revel in it. The magic will follow.
Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!