Delayed gratification, a pleasurable approach?

I’ve updated this post, which I originally wrote  five years ago. It still rings true and was a great reminder for me when I read it this week. Hope it is for you, too.

One of the worst and the best things about being in Peace Corps, is you get to experience delayed gratification at a entirely new level. So many things you once took for granted are out of your reach, but not out of your mind. It’s easy to find yourself day dreaming about your favorite foods, TV shows, movies, stores, restaurants and hundreds of other things that were always there for you.

The good news is: pleasure is in the mind of the beholder. Doing without can be a great way to go within. And, oddly enough the wait for a specific treat, item or service can end-up being even more rewarding than the item or service being craved!

We’ve touched on delayed gratification before, remember the famous marshmallow test with kids? Well, just for fun, I’m suggesting you create mini-marshmallow tests of your own in January with a twist – you don’t get to pick the circumstances, you just get to respond to them. I call these sweet treats “Forced Delayed Gratification”.

The next time, you are dying for something or impatiently waiting – instead of focusing on your desire or discomfort, simply say to yourself:

“Oh, this is a Forced Delayed Gratification situation. Hmm, what are my options here?”

By asking a question, you pull yourself into the moment (within) and away from the situation. Your brain immediately jumps to your aide and begins releasing different hormones and chemicals, which may start connecting to new neurons: Broaden and Build vs Flight or Fight. One little question can flip a switch in your brain and start you on an entirely new neural pathway.

So, what happens after you question your options?

You realize you have lots more options! You can try a distraction technique and begin looking around to notice your surroundings. This will start you down another new mental path as you begin noticing the who, what when, where of the moment.

Or, you can spend a few minutes thinking about something special that happened to you in the past, or something special you are anticipating in the future. This option may sound  silly, but it is much more relaxing and mentally rewarding than feeling stressed, impatient or deprived, and it can actually begin building new positive neural pathways in your brain, which , overtime, can lead to all sorts of positive benefits.

The choice is yours, and here’s the clincher, the choice is always yours. You can flip the switch in your brain anytime. Just like a toddler, your brain can be redirected with a little creativity and gentle nudging.

Try some Forced Delayed Gratifications in the days ahead. With a bit of practice, you’ll be astounded how little you really need to be happy and content and how quickly you can move from one state of mind to another. And, remember the goal is not necessarily to do without, but to spend a few minutes going within. We’re delaying gratification not denying it!

( From 2006-20013, I served three times in the United States Peace Corps and practiced forced delayed gratification almost daily, which gave me plenty of time for positive reverie and new adventures! It was a true blessing in disguise and one I quickly learned to embrace. To read more a bit about my adventures, click here, here, and here!)

You can do it!

Mini-meditations

Give yourself the gift of meditation this year.

The time you spend does not have to be long. Short stints are effective and brain altering.

Listen to what Dr.Wendy Suzuki, has to say on the subject:

“The Little Red Hen”, a new perspective

I am often in awe of how much work others do to make our lives better. I am not thinking just about friends and family and the love, wisdom, support and gifts they share, but rather the thousands, maybe millions, of folks whose daily jobs somehow impact our lives.

thelittleredhenRemember the story of The Little Red Hen? It was about a group of barnyard friends who didn’t want to help The Little Red Hen plant the seeds, to grow the wheat, to take it to the mill, to make the flour, to bake the bread. But in real life there are hundreds of thousands of people working to plant the seeds, to grow the wheat, to take it to the mill, to make the flour, to bake the bread!

There are millions of people here and all over the world working each day to make our lives better in some way.  And, most likely you are too.

So, thank you for doing what you do, because somehow, in someway you are making my life and the lives of thousands, maybe millions, of other people’s better, too.

Our connections are deeper than we think, more important than we recognize and much more helpful than we realize.

 

 

 

 

National Coffee Day

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Today is national coffee day, and a great time to get in touch with the things you love.

A warm cup of cappuccino with any kind of delicate design gracing its surface is one of my most delectable delights, especially when enjoyed in a quiet cafe with Autumn colored walls and a painted cement floor.

Call me crazy, but cappuccino in a round, thick, ceramic cup lights up my day, relaxes my mind and fills my heart.  I love that it stimulates so many of my senses: sight, taste, touch – the warmth of the cup, and smell – that strong dusky scent. (Studies show that even sniffing coffee can awaken our senses and reduce stress!)

What treat, item, or setting, washes away the worries of the world, and makes even the greyest day shine for you?

Research shows that enjoying and savoring our personal pleasures is a great way to re-set and redirect our gloomy feelings and thoughts. The more descriptive and detailed your description of your pleasure the more likely you will be able to recreate its effect in your mind, long after you’ve enjoyed it.

I hope today you treat yourself to your favorite special moment or food, and then take time in the days ahead to replay the joy it brought you. I’m heading to a old-fashioned New York Italian bakery a perfect half-mile walk away for a steamy cup and and a crunchy, walnut, shortbread cookie, and I plan to savor the memory when I am back in Florida, 1200 miles my favorite cup of that delicious brew!

 

 

 

 

Meditation and moments of joy and fear

I am all about meditation this summer. I am talking about it weekly in a Summer Joy Club I am facilitating based on Martha Beck’s, The Joy Diet, which begins by focusing on fifteen minutes a day of meditation or simply doing nothing.

I am expanding my daily meditation practice with the free meditation series that Oprah and Deepak Chopra are currently offering.  On Day 10 in the series Oprah talks about joy and fear, and how often we worry when experiencing joy that it is all too good to be true and we let fear overtake our joyful moments, or follow quickly on their heels.

IMG_1688 (2)I know what that feels like. Yesterday, I was on a lovely garden estate on Long Island, sitting in the shade, reading, and feeling happy and joyful about the moment. And, then I felt this sense of guilt slowly creeping into my mind. “Who was I? Why should I”, etc. , etc.

Luckily, instead of giving into the guilt OR beating up on myself for feeling guilty – I simply took a deep and cleansing breathe and went back to my reading! That is one of the many benefits of meditation – it helps you stay in the moment even when you are not meditating!

Deepak suggests that we say to ourselves – in moments like the one I was having or when other types of negative thoughts or feelings of hopelessness begin to rise . . . “I want better than this; I side with hope.” 

In her latest book, Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening (The Bewilderment Chronicles Book 1), Martha Beck suggests we calm our fears by asking for help from whoever our personal higher power or spiritual belief is, and then say to ourselves, “May you be well, may you be safe, may you live in joy and peace.”

I suggest you use either or both options, because you do deserve better, there is always hope, and I truly wish that you be well, that you are safe and that you live in joy and peace.

 

Namaste.

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Savor a simple summer pleasure

Guided goodness – free meditation series

buddhist-481765_960_720If you have never tried meditating, or if you meditate and would like to add to your current practice, check out Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s upcoming, free 21-day meditation series.

I have used their meditations in the past, and they are guided goodness and a refreshing way to calm your mind and comfort your soul. Meditations are usually 15 minutes in length – a small amount of time that can yield big results.

To enrich your life and create new levels of awareness, insight and joy sign-up for their free meditation series, which begins July 11 by clicking here.

Then join the free  Wishful Thinking Works Meditation Facebook Group , which is designed to help you develop the meditation habit by

  • providing accountability – studies how this is key when developing any new habit,
  • to celebrate your successes – also so important when trying something new,
  • and to give you a place to share your thoughts and questions with others going through the same process.

It’s a virtual support group for your new journey!

The Wishful Thinking Works Meditation Facebook Group is open to everyone, it is listed as “closed” on FB, but that just means no one but members can see your posts. You have nothing to lose and so much gain.

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Join us to find a bit more peace in your heart and happiness in your life. You deserve this and more, and it is all free!

 

 

 

Are you ready? Life could be better  . . . Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

Visit Wishful Thinking Works on Facebook for posts and updates.

 “Like” Wishful Thinking Works on Facebook.

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