Small pleasures make big difference

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong in wallowing in self-pity, to help you get over an upsetting experience.

According to a new book, appreciating the simple things and making tiny changes to your life can make a world of difference. Gabrielle Fagan explores its sanity-saving list

LAZY lie-ins, neatly avoiding a Monday morning feeling or simply having time for a leisurely walk are treats many of us will have appreciated over a bank holiday weekend.

But generally, we probably underestimate the healing power of the small pleasures in life to boost our wellbeing and enrich our lives.

“Good bread, warm towels, crisp mornings, girls’ nights out, eating the froth on the cappuccino are ordinary things which can make life worth living,” says Maeve Haran, who found fame with her first novel, Having It All, and whose latest book is Small Pleasures To Save Your Life.

She entertainingly details a host of little things in life which can help lift our mood — small changes which can make us more efficient and therefore less stressed, and life tips which can just generally help us smile more often.

“In a world where change is fast and we often can’t control it, we can sometimes feel powerless and stressed and find it hard to take pleasure in anything,” says Haran, a mother of two daughters.

“So what can you rely on which isn’t immoral, illegal or wildly expensive to make you feel that, despite all this, life is wonderful? The answer is small pleasures.” Her suggestions in the book range from blackberry picking to gossiping and flirting, through to taking a candle-lit bath or simply relishing the small, comforting routines of plumping cushions and folding freshly laundered sheets.

Haran has some favourite ways to bring pleasure, order and calm to her life.

“You can get real pleasure from doing something you’ve been really dreading,” she says. “The pleasure comes in that you’ve done it at all, and it usually wasn’t as bad as you thought, and possibly you’ve achieved some sort of result.

“From time to time, I try to see the city I live in as if I were a visitor. I ask myself what I’d do if I were only here for a weekend,” she says.

We live in a culture which is dedicated to ‘moving on’ and anyone who hasn’t recovered from their relationship break-up, job loss or pet’s death within three months is considered a wimp, she says.

“Actually, I think it’s perfectly justifiable to wallow, make late-night phone calls to your friends, moan endlessly, hide under the bed covers and ignore all housework as long as you need,” she says.

“By leaving 10 minutes early, you give yourself the incredibly precious gift of not being stressed,” she says.

“You may even have time for a relaxed cappuccino (and its froth), instead of a racing heart, a sense of failure at your own inefficiency, and a nasty attack of high anxiety.”

Spending too much can be a dizzying pleasure, but an even greater one lies in keeping some money back, she says.

¦ Small Pleasures To Save Your Life by Maeve Haran is published by Hay House.


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