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9. The Power of Life's Little Pleasures

Would you humour me by doing a little experiment? Here's a scale of 1 - 10. It's for you to measure your mood, right this minute. The bottom end, 0, is the worst you could ever feel, totally fed up, the world is bleak and there's little hope of improvement. The top end, 10, is feeling fantastic, optimistic, full of life. Where would you put yourself on that scale at this precise moment? 0 __________________________________________10 Now think of one thing in your life that is, shall we say, sub-optimal at the moment. Notice how you feel about it. More on this experiment later. The festivities over, the temperatures below freezing and the prospect of several more weeks of short days and dark nights can leave you feeling pretty blue at this time of the year. (Those of you who live in sunnier climes may smile serenely at this point). The worse thing for any problem in life is feeling blue, because feeling blue always makes problems look bigger and less soluble, and renders you less capable of dealing with them. This tip is about simple ways to feel better, ways that don't require a fantastic job suddenly to appear, the love of your life to decide they want to marry you, or whatever else it is that you think would make you happy. Perhaps it's because people need cheering up in January that Bachelor's cup-a-soup company decided to do a survey of three thousand people on what they felt to be the greatest pleasures in life. Or maybe it was because they were confident that hot soup would feature somewhere.... Anyway, here are the top ten: 1. A good night's sleep 2. Finding a forgotten tenner in your pocket 3. Cuddling up with someone you love 4. Crying with laughter 5. Having a lie-in 6. Sleeping in newly laundered bedding 7. Getting a bargain 8. Making someone smile 9. Catching up with an old friend 10 Laughing at things that have happened in the past Others in the top 50 included: Someone saying you look nice Curling up on the sofa with a good book and, yes, a hot drink or soup Waking up thinking it's a work day and then realising it's the weekend A random person smiling at you in the street Looking through old photo albums First snow fall of the year Singing your heart out to your favourite song in the car Having lunch with friends A pampering session at home Your queue moving fastest in the supermarket When I read about this survey in one of the Sunday papers, I involuntarily found myself imagining that delicious feeling of having a bath and then getting into bed between clean sheets. Then I thought about cuddling up to someone I love, putting my arms around them and holding them tight. Then I remembered a chat I'd recently had with an old friend from university and how we'd laughed about the beer race we did in fresher's week. And I suddenly became aware of how very cheerful I was feeling! So I thought you might like to feel cheerful too..... Try this: 1. Think of five things that you really enjoy. 2. Take one of these five and imagine having that experience by remembering the last time you had it. 3. Allow time to really enjoy it. 4. Now take another one and do the same, and another. 5. Go back to the mood scale at the beginning and again assess how you're feeling. Any changes? 6. Think about the area of your life that's causing you problems at the moment - how does it look now? For the next week, why not chase the winter blues by scheduling a few real experiences of life's little pleasures? And how about providing some pleasure for somebody else? Research shows that in a situation where one person is giving to another, the person who derives most pleasure is the giver. Why not smile at a random person in the street, give up your seat on the train, or pay someone a compliment, and see how good it feels? Enjoy!

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