How Simple Pleasures Can Save the World

by | Inspired Journals | 13 comments

When the newspaper headlines are bleak and the economy is going down the toilet, daily life can feel overwhelming at best. Everything is so messed up – where do we even start?!

I have an easy answer for you:

Start with simple pleasures.

6 Ways Simple Pleasures Can Save the World

Here are just a few of the ways that simple pleasures can help your mood, your confidence, and even your health.

1. They’re economical.
Simple pleasures are cheap or free, especially when they involve enjoying stuff you already have. Nature is free and can be an endless source of a million tiny pleasures. (Unless you have allergies. In that case, do your pleasure-seeking indoors. Nudge nudge, wink wink.)

2. They’re accessible to all.
Everyone can enjoy their own simple pleasures, regardless of circumstance. Even if you’re flat broke and totally stuck, you can relish in the scent of fresh cut grass.

3. They’re easy to do right now.
It’s not an overwhelming goal to enjoy a simple pleasure. Even when you’re depressed and feel incapable of experiencing pleasure (been there, done that), you can often manage simple pleasures. Like popping bubble-wrap. Drinking a steamy cup of tea in your favorite mug on a rainy Sunday. Petting that purring cat on your lap.

4. They keep us present.
Enjoying little pleasures brings us back to the current moment. It relieves us from the duty of saving the world – just for a little bit. It warms us up and preps us to take on bigger enjoyment projects.

5. They build confidence.
Simple pleasures are easy to set up and difficult to fail at, so enjoying them builds your confidence. (“If I can thoroughly enjoy the smell of this blueberry candle right now, I must not be as incompetent as I feared.”)

6. They’re good for your health.
Experiencing a tidbit of pleasure puts you in a receptive state to experience more pleasure. Biologically, it changes your body chemistry, elevates mood and makes you brighter and more optimistic. Enjoyment and pleasure boost your immune system so you’ll stay healthier, too.

Yes – enjoying a Star Gazer lily can do all that and more!

Not-so-guilty Pleasures

Ever notice how the really good stuff has naughty overtones? Like we can’t possibly enjoy ourselves without retribution, payable upon death.

Personally, I’m not sure what the Devil has to do with dessert. But I prefer to keep my morals and my chocolate separate. As long as no kittens were harmed in the making of these “sinfully rich” cupcakes, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of every single one.

Back to Nature

We are swamped with technology and totally connected 24/7. I spend 12 hours a day on the computer. (Occupational hazard.)

Enjoying a few minutes of nature is the perfect antidote to being surrounded by plastic and silicon day and night. Even a brief moment in a neighborhood park can energize us and bring us — literally — back to Earth.

I enjoy many pleasures au naturel: wildflowers pushing up through the cracks of the sidewalk, the thick heady scent of an Asian lily, warm sun on my skin. None of these pleasures require a trip to the mountains – they’re all accessible right outside my door.

Get Pleasured

Take twenty minutes to write down some of your favorite simple pleasures in your journal. You can also write about why they’re your favorite.

Use this list for future writing sessions: detail the times when you experienced these pleasures, people who introduced them to you, or even paste in some physical ephemera of the enjoyment (pressed flowers, ticket stubs).

Flag that part of your journal so you can turn to it frequently. Add new pleasures as you think of them. Use it as a “shopping list” and choose at least one pleasure per day.

My Baker’s Dozen

Here are a few of my favorite simple pleasures:

Rainbow chard fresh from the garden
Clean bamboo floors that smell like Mrs. Meyer’s basil cleaner
Peeling perfect hard boiled eggs
Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap in a hot shower after a hard run
A new stack of Real Simple back issues from Kerry
The smell of rain when it first starts falling on a hot day
The Stranger newspaper coming out on Thursdays
My stomach leaping when I descend Roy St. too fast on my Vespa
The Space Needle all lit up on a summer night
Watching the Duck Dodge from Gasworks Park
Iced vanilla Rooibus tea in a mason jar
Fresh sheets on laundry day
A perfect mix CD with clever transitions

What are your simple pleasures? Leave them in the comments below so we can all enjoy them with you!


  1. Lori

    One of my simple pleasures?

    Looking up to see the contrast between a bright blue, clear sky and vibrant green leaves.

    Thanks for reminding me to notice!

  2. karen

    Sitting on the gazebo, listening to the breeze blowing through the trees and the birds in the nearby bushes. The scent of Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner is pretty good too.
    It was good to read your post after I had a sleepless night thinking of “what could have been”. Simple pleasures, like those you mentioned are really all we need. Sometimes we just expect too much.

  3. Amy

    Thank you for reminding me of the simple pleasures. Lately, I have been enjoying the feeling of the sunshine on my face. I also love taking off my shoes and wriggling my toes in the grass.

  4. Dan Goodwin

    This is a great post Kristin, and something we should think about more often.

    Simple pleasures are overlooked by most of us as we’re led to believe by the media and advertising that only the latest gadgets/ fashions/ cars/ computers etc can bring us happiness.

    I’ve been working on a very similar article myself, based on a update of a post I wrote last year called My Happy Hundred. Basically a hundred things that make me happy, and bring a smile.


  5. Joni

    Iced green tea with spearmint and lemongrass. A hot bath with candles and a good magazine. Cleaning out my nightstand. Hopping on my bike!

  6. Liza Posar

    Every morning I walk for 30 minutes in my area. Then twice a month I go to this beautiful park with a lake and tea house and do my walk there that day and after my walk I treat myself to a cup of coffee and scones with jam and cream at the tea house while I read my book. This is a real treat for me!!

  7. Melanie

    I so enjoyed this post! Like Dan, I’ve been thinking and blogging about this topic lately as well. Recognizing simple pleasures is such a quick and nourishing way to practice self-care!

    Like Liza says, tea, especially with scones & jam, sounds good to me too. 🙂

  8. 100daysinbed

    Thx doll, for your sweet message on my blog! I love your multi-tasking idea!!!

  9. Leah

    Sunset on Samish Bay, from this little viewpoint no one else seems to know about.

  10. Kristin

    I absolutely LOVE everyone’s small pleasures. Thank you for being so generous and sharing your gems of wisdom with us. It’s interesting that lots of folks are cherishing snippets of nature. It’s so good for us to get away from the computer once in awhile and walk barefoot in the grass. Think I’m going to go do that right now! 😉

  11. Carol

    My Simple pleasure is sitting outside on a brilliant sunny day under the sun umbrella listening to the birds chirping away merrily.
    Thanks for your take on the simple pleasures in life to Kristin.
    Cheers Carol

  12. jo

    ~favorite simple pleasures

    *Country magazine

    *following my children around and letting them set the pace and the agenda

    *a park on a pretty day

    *flowers – any kind any where any time any reason – or no reason!

    *a perfect cup of tea

    *the ~ key on my computer. it is my favorite key. so pretty and it does not have an actual use so there are no rules for it. it is also in the top left corner under Esc

    *my husband’s shoulder. so nice to snuggle into!

    *pretty sunny days. some days are just so beautiful it almost hurts!

    *freedom. freedom to drive anywhere i want, watch anything i want, say anything i want. we are so blessed. so so so blessed!!

    *a day with no have to’s ~ no time constraints


  13. patricia mc.

    Laying back watching clouds or some form of mother nature at its best, and feeling at peace.