I recently made a friend who gets pretty excited about things. Favorite movies and snacks, planned projects, trips. Seeing that made me realize that I…don’t, really. I definitely endorse and enjoy simple pleasures…but stop just short of excitement for them.
I’m not sure how much of it is just growing up (e.g. harder to be excited about vacation when it’s so much work to plan, pack, things can go wrong…), or if excitement is too close to anxiety and lost its appeal in grad school, or if the stress got me so used to existing mentally anywhere but the present, and despairing at the passage of time instead of celebrating it.
But I want to reclaim my joy, simple or grand as the cause may be. Watching a movie without analyzing the socioeconomic role of the studio or franchise in society. Partaking in seasonal events or foods without feeling a little silly or juvenile about it. Savoring and registering moments of elation, without mentally asking permission.
Yesterday, I thought about this and got caramel apple popcorn at Target. I don’t relish pumpkin spice, but I love caramel. And caramel corn. And that isht is delicious, lemme tell ya. Also fleeting. Savor before it’s gone, replaced with candycanes!
Today, I savored the tail end of a sunset, and bf’s warmth when he hugged me hello.
What helps you be present and savor the moment? Who else has trouble with it?
Yup, definitely have trouble with it sometimes. I think for me usually it helps to ground myself with one particular sense at a time. Like seeking out and listening to tree leaves rustle is one of the most calming things for me most of the time. Sometimes it’ll be enjoying the sensation of sun on my skin, or repeatedly touching a rock that has a smooth texture (weird I know, but true).
This. We leave for our annual ’Trip of a Lifetime’ mid next week. A two week trip to Japan. I’d describe the excitement level as low. Which is weird. It should be sky high. I am looking forward to it. And it will be rad. But I wouldn’t say I’m buzzing with anticipation.
Being outside in nature, particularly in my own garden where I can focus on the small things that grab my attention.
Oh yes, definitely something I struggle with, particularly lately. If I can sit or stop whatever I’m doing for a microsecond and realise that I have nowhere else to be or anything I really need to be doing, it can help a bit. Then I can really focus in on who or what I’m with/doing. But the stopping part is hard. Being more present is something I need to focus on, for sure.
I struggle with it lots sometimes… But it comes easier when I’m “rested” - sleep yes, but also activities that restore me, and not overwhelmed by the crushing responsibility and social pressure of life. So day to day stress level reduce joyous things to being nice comforts.
But the idea of finding ways to really really enjoy them seems very worth it
Snuggling with my cats, especially if they’re purring. I just love when they’re happy and it fills my heart up.
Being immersed in a hands on project, but usually not after I reach a point of exhaustion. So gardening or mowing the lawn or cleaning the house all feel good for a while because I’m moving around, have to use a certain amount of my brain to focus on what I’m doing, and aren’t overly complicated so I don’t get decision fatigue. I think there’s also an element of having clearly defined goals that can (typically) be accomplished in a short time frame. But I stop feeling present for them if I keep working so long that I get thirsty or hungry or my feet start hurting or whatever.
Hiking and backpacking.
Hanging out with friends and family outside.
Great idea for a discussion. I definitely struggle with this. For me, the “busyness/noise” of modern life drowns the ability to feel deeply positive (or negative often) emotions. So, I’m trying to disconnect more.
I feel you on this on multiple levels (including the feeling that grad school robbed me of the ability to feel certain things, and certainly to feel them safely). I don’t feel nearly as deeply as I used to; it’s as if allowing myself the access to that depth of feeling could break me.
For the past five years or so I’ve been trying really hard to lean in to enthusiasm – to finding the good and beautiful things everywhere. (Thinking about it, this is my version of a gratitude practice.) It can be really hard sometimes, especially when you’ve been reading the news a lot and everything seems horrible and why be enthusiastic about everything?
But like – that caramel popcorn is there. And it’s delicious. Why not revel in its deliciousness? Why not fully savor and experience it? Why not give your best emotions to this moment? It feels so good to be joyful about little things like this. It gives me a little bit of access to that depth of feeling again, in a way that feels safe and accessible. It’s something I can do every day that makes me feel engaged with my world and that gives me this little bath of good-feeling emotions – like a bit of armor against the bullshit.
I have taken the approach of leaning into the silly. Like, yeah, it’s juvenile to get excited about a pumpkin patch. WATCH MY INNER FIVE YEAR OLD SPIN IN GLEE, MOTHERFUCKERS.
Things that give me joy:
- Comedy shows
- Great friend time
- Giraffe onesies
- Bulleted lists
Thing I weirdly don’t get excited about:
- Hiking - I enjoy it, but it’s not full of excitement, and sometimes it’s slow and boring
I should spend less time online. I’m never on my phone when I’m hanging out with people, but I’m glued to it when walking around, even if it’s just a podcast.
I wouldn’t say this is a problem I have. I think it comes down to being able to feel different emotions about the same thing. You can be very excited and nervous about a trip, but that doesn’t mean you are net neutral about it.
Also, it’s ok to not enjoy something that you are “supposed” to, so find what you actually like.
This was profound for me. Along with the earlier bit about not feeling safe with the depth of feelings. Because that’s exactly it. I feel happiness, but part of me is always anticipating its end, or thinking about what I should do instead, or how I am being perceived, etc. Too much thinking, not enough presence.
Yep. I I find that lots of time what the deepest parts of me want is to relax into that little pool of feelings; it’s like a warm soothing bath. It’s something else about me that prevents it from doing that, and if I can remove those barriers, suddenly there I am, in my own little happiness sauna.
I find the phrase “fuck it” to be very helpful in those moments.
I think it makes sense; when you’re stressed there is always some focus on the stress causes. But since there will always be work, and laundry, it seems worth figuring out how to let such things go when we’re not actively doing them. Tap into the irresponsible, carefree side. I’m not saying I know how, but that I’d like to learn
I definitely struggle with this and I kind of refer to it as if I have like… a “life condom” on… I keep myself a certain distance from any sharp feelings, good or bad and I think it’s kind of a self-preservation thing I’ve created over the years.
I am still working on finding things that help me be more present & open to a variety of feelings that I have worked very hard to suppress.
It’s hard to undo protective layers we have created for ourselves.
I will enjoy following along with this thread and maybe trying out some things that work for other people.
So far, for me, I can be present in the early morning in my backyard when it is quiet with no chance of interaction with other humans and I can watch the birds and squirrels and my dog.