I recently spent some time talking to Kat Horrocks on the Put Yourself First podcast. You can listen to the podcast using either of the links below, but I’ve be summarising what we chatted about over a few posts, in case you missed it and don’t have the time to listen, or podcasts aren’t really your thing. This is the final post in the series.
We live in a world that’s fast-paced and values productivity and drive. It’s task-orientated, and about getting things done. Some people might refer to that as a masculine approach. Pleasure, however, falls into the softer side of things; the more feminine type of approach, one could say.
Women have learned over a long time, to show up, especially in the workplace, in a more masculine way, but things are definitely changing. There are shifts happening, and we can see businesses are now starting to say, “How can we be more collaborative? How can we bring in aspects of giving, not just taking or being results orientated to the expense of so much else? How can we be more socially and environmentally aware?”
I’ve been to conferences recently where we’re starting to talk about empathy and love and vulnerability. Brene Brown, for example, has research to show that businesses are more productive when they bring in these kind of components. So there’s a shift to more showing up authentically rather than wearing a mask.
I often use the example of my personal heritage of being French, and if we look at French culture, for instance, the French don’t question pleasure. It’s part of who they are. They live and work a context of bringing in daily small pleasures to their lives, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money.
There’s new research showing that if we experience something pleasurable for even brief periods of time, we are able to relax the body, which sends signals to our brain that we’re safe and so our nervous system becomes calmer. We start releasing pleasure hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin that counteract the affect of stress hormones like cortisol. That’s amazing, right? You just need to start with 30 seconds to get the benefit!
What can you do for half a minute? I always bring it back to the senses. We’ve got sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, and this is how I bring sensuality into my life. That’s not just about being sensual in the bedroom, but about being sensual throughout our days and adding pleasure via what we see, smell, taste, touch and hear.
For instance, you could stop for half a minute to really notice and sense into your environment. What can you feel? What can you hear? Smell? What makes you happy to look at? I absolutely love flowers, so if I can find a flower in nature or if I’m walking down the street and there’s a florist I will sometimes stop and just for a minute I will look and focus on the flowers. If you aren’t passing by a florist, you could light a scented candle or breathe in the aroma of coffee or vanilla. Or just wear a scent that you really love.
When it comes to taste, I love cheese, chocolates and champagne. If you’re wanting to go on a diet those are probably three things that will be cut off the diet. The idea around the Champagne Campaign is not about deprivation, but quality over quantity. When it comes to food, treat yourself to the best possible things that you enjoy so that you can rather have quality, not quantity.
So many of us when we’re stressed, can just wolf down a slab of chocolate, for instance, whereas if we just took the time to break off a few pieces and not be distracted: actually taste the chocolate melting in your mouth and try to pick up the different flavours and appreciate it in that moment, that could also help us to derive more pleasure from food and to possibly eat more mindfully.
If we took five or 10 minutes to sit and eat our lunch pleasurably or sip a cup of tea or coffee without being frantic and busy and taking calls and answering emails, that might also give us an opportunity to problem-solve, to be creative, to be curious, to think of ideas that we wouldn’t have if we just kept on being very busy.
All it takes is the willingness to stop for a moment and add those small sensual pleasures, which will be rewarding in so many ways. Life is short – but it can be sweet too.