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Is My Pleasure Important?

Change Coach Faith Hoskins hiking

Confessions of a Change Coach

I recently spent 5 weeks working remotely from Southern France (because why not, right?) It was magical. I felt so alive, so excited, so present, so full of joy every day I was there. It felt AMAZING.

However, after just a few days of returning to America, I felt a drastic shift in my nervous system, falling back into the hustle and bustle of “life” and giving in to the performance-based mindset I regularly fight against. I sighed heavily, thinking, “Well, I guess it is back to reality.”

I could feel my neck tense up, my back started to tighten around my spine. I became defensive and on edge with my family. My energy levels plummeted. I dreaded going into my office. I procrastinated doing “all the things” by planning my next vacation, longing for the day I could feel so at ease and at peace with the world.

I stayed in this state (what I call ‘the funk’) for a few days. But then, after I was tired of my pity party, I used my oh-so-trusted coaching tools to change my state of mind.

Starting with self-compassion, I asked myself, “Why do you think you feel this way? And how does that make sense?”

To which I responded, “Well, in France, everything was new and exciting. I also didn’t have as much pressure to get things done. I had a lot less demands on my plate, it being the holidays. And during the holiday season, the whole environment around me was festive and full of joy. I was outside all the time, and the sun was shining. I went on hikes and took moments to enjoy the beauty all around me, which was STUNNING. So, it makes sense that I would have felt so at peace or free or present in the moment. Who wouldn’t?”

“Yeah, that makes sense. It sounds like an amazing place. And it also makes sense that it won’t be the same coming back here, with all the demands on your plate. But did you learn about yourself and what can you bring back to your life here?”

“I think it was that I permitted myself to pursue pleasurable moments. I was in France, after all. I couldn’t forgo the opportunity to eat everything that looked interesting take a moment to myself if I wanted or stop and allow the cool ocean breeze to hit my face. I wasn’t in a hurry. I didn’t have a lot of plans. I simply allowed myself to follow my desires. And though I know that is not realistic long-term, it does challenge me to ask myself, “Why aren’t you giving yourself more permission to pursue things that you enjoy? Why do you not allow yourself a moment to stop and breathe, and take in the moment? What has changed? Only geography.”

“So how can you bring novelty and pleasure into your day here and now?”

I thought for a second, and then immediately began writing a list of things I can do- different macro moments of pleasure to include throughout my day.

Here are some examples I wrote down:

· When I am in the sauna, allow the sweat to run down my cheek and notice how it tickles. Don’t wipe it off and try and notice something new about that experience.

· Take a moment in the morning to look at the STUNNING sunrise and bask in all the colors filling the sky.

· Take one extra moment to connect and smile with people you pass by.

· Go for a 20-minute walk.

· Go for a hike in a new place.

· Take time to enjoy the new recipe you cooked. Approach it with wonder and excitement.

· Use home exchange to get away on weekends for a change of scenery.

Experiencing the stark contrast between what it feels like to be in a balanced nervous system and one that is jumping back and forth into the stress cycle helped remind me of the importance of taking care of myself, leaning into pleasure in the small macro moments of my day, and giving myself permission to stop and be present with the beauty all around me. It’s not the geography itself (though the new environment does disrupt our habitual patterns), but rather the permission I give myself on how I can/should live. And that is something I can choose every day, no matter where I might find myself.

What permission do you need to give yourself today?

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