I have just gotten back from an amazing trip.
I had training with Susan Hyatt and 6 other soon to be BARE coaches in Savannah, Georgia.
The city was beautiful. The weather was perfect. The house and the hospitality were beyond comfortable. The company was stellar AND we spent half a day talking about PLEASURE!!! Oh yeah.
Part of our discussion involved brainstorming a big list of pleasures and then we were to think about ways to add some more to our days. And that’s when it hit me. I have a terrible, terrible habit of turning my play into work. There are several activities that I really truly enjoy, that when I thought about adding them to my pleasure plan, just felt a little out of place. And it’s not because I don’t like them. It’s because of how I treat them, how I think about them, how I talk about them.
I like to make music – so I’ll get serious about it, get gigs, and then feel like I “should” practice.
I like to dig in the dirt – so I’ll get serious about it, make a big garden and then feel like I “should” tend it.
I like to dance – so I get serious about it, turn it into part of an exercise routine, and then feel like I “should” do it.
Are you seeing the pattern, cause I sure am. I take my pleasures and instead of enjoying them, I expand them and turn them into obligations, assignments for myself. There’s nothing wrong with being in a band, having a garden, or taking dance classes; it’s that added little twisted step that I do by turning it into a should. And by turning it into a should, I make it unappealing. It’s that simple. I make it into a project, instead of a pleasure, and then I should myself about it. And then, and maybe this is just me being contrary, I don’t want to do it.
Funny thing is that once I’m actually engaged in these activities – playing guitar and singing, gardening, dancing – I quite enjoy myself. It’s something about the mental game that’s happening before the moment of action that makes them seem unappealing and that keeps me from doing them nearly as often as I might otherwise do. I should myself out of my own pleasure. How crazy is that?!
Do you remember what I said I was going to do about that dumb should-word this year? I’m unchoosing it. I still unchoose it. It is my anti-word of the year. I will not allow should to take away my pleasure. I will not allow should to turn my play into work. I will not deny myself the wholeness that doing something for the simple joy of doing it creates.
I’m going to allow myself to do these things for the sheer pleasure of it. I will see what the full should sentence says (like “I should practice those new songs”) and deliberately come at it a different way (“I’m going to play that Van Morrison song that makes me feel so good and then see if I want to play some more.”) Instead of “I should dance for exercise,” “I’m going to turn on Suite Judy Blue Eyes and dance around the kitchen like we used to with the kids.” How about instead of: “I’m going to jump rope for 15 minutes because it’s excellent cardio and I ate too much,” “I’m going to jump rope for a little while because it feels so darned good on such a nice day.” Maybe it’s just the language. Maybe it’s the thought the language rises out of and the attitude that language creates. Maybe all I need is different words to turn my “work” back into “play.”
What are you doing for the sheer pleasure of it these days? Got any shoulds hiding in that calculation? Got any play you’ve managed to turn into work? How could you make it play again? Playing is fun and fun is pleasure and friends, after spending several days in a splendid Southern city, I can assure you pleasure is good.