~Are Simple Pleasures A Necessary Thing?

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

I was viewing a philosophical video essay recently with a very interesting premise.  It was that “The Pursuit of Happiness is a Moral Obligation” versus a selfish desire.  The idea is that how we act and what we do impact not only our own feelings, but that of others. So why impose anything other than happiness, laughter and joy on others? It is a conscious choice that we can make.  Even a leading psychologist and scholar, Martin Seligman, has suggested that happiness is a like a muscle: that we can consciously strengthen with daily exercise.  So it’s best for ourselves and it’s best for others,  but how do we achieve this in these complicated times?

In reflection on my own life, I realize that I’ve often been too focused on the end result versus my journey there.  Perhaps I’ve been a lesser person than I could be, in terms of my not only my own happiness but also my impact on others. There have been so many times that I have denied myself pleasure for the sake of discipline and staying focused on career, personal goals and finances, for example.  And if I grew frustrated or tired, it showed. Gratification and balance were always delayed. Somehow, I thought that was what an admirable, hard-working professional should be: persistant and stoic no matter how tough things got. Who has time for pleasure when there’s so much to DO?

I think the best analogy I’ve seen or read has to do with allowing some “white space” in your life.  In the same way that graphic designers know that art needs to be balanced with an adequate amount of white space to be effective and uncluttered; I think we as individuals need white space in our lives for solace and pleasure to rejuvenate ourselves.

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~Daily Inspirations and the Search for Solace

Lighthouse Window in Monterey, CA

Lighthouse window in Monterey, CA

It started back in the eighties. I found myself wishing for a simpler time, with a slower pace. I loved wood moldings and retro/reproduction furniture from Pottery Barn, and old crystal doorknobs that looked like they were from the twenties, from Restoration Hardware. I started listening to standards and lounge music.  I discovered the joys of fragrant French soap. My roommate at the time taught me about how 300-count thread sheets, egyptian cotton towels, and how these things combined with fresh-smelling fabric softener, could all bring a little more joy to your daily life. I found myself drinking lemonade and gardening more. I learned to enjoy hearty weekend breakfasts, followed by hikes (and a nap) in the afternoons.

Of course, this was all in between my mad, hectic, compressed, insane race to an advertising career and cosmopolitan youthful lifestyle. But I thought perhaps there was a cultural shift going on: something bubbling beneath the cut-cut-cut of the instant music video world we lived in, and something beyond the L.A. traffic jams and instant Danish boxy furniture we’d all become accustomed to. I saw a ripple in the ether.

A cultural shift was indeed happening, and it was evident that it wasn’t just me with these yearnings. I felt like there was a move towards simplicity, slowing down, and sentimentality. Then in the nineties, it moved forward rapidly. Continue reading