10 Ways to Find More Pleasure Every Day

Go ahead: Indulge yourself. Top your cone with another scoop of ice cream. Then check out these suggestions for creating (even more) moments to savor.

 

  • Paul Bloom

I’m not a happiness guy—there’s nothing new that I can tell you about how to live a fulfilling life. Instead, I am interested in the more concrete topic of pleasure. What’s the difference? Happiness is a prolonged state of being that is influenced by a variety of factors, ranging from a person’s relationships to her religion to her genetic predispositions. Pleasure, on the other hand, is a purely instinctive reaction with a brief life span: 30 seconds to an hour or two, tops. And while happiness can be elusive at times, sources of pleasure are fairly easy to come by. Read on for a host of unexpected ways to pack bliss into your life.

1. Play that song you love so much. Repeat. As any preschooler can tell you, repetition nurtures pleasure. When you experience something more than once, you notice more details about it each time, thereby increasing your enjoyment. That’s why you love revisiting that jazz standard, favorite roast chicken recipe, and beloved old Woody Allen movie. Of course, you can overdo it. The effect of repetition on pleasure is an inverted U: You appreciate something more and more over time until, abruptly, it becomes repellent to you. Which is why no one you know can bear to listen to that “I get knocked down, but I get up again” song anymore.

2. Seek out the sommelier. In all areas of our lives, our sensory reactions are affected by the depth of our knowledge. Take wine, for example. If you want to enjoy it more fully, you don’t have to shell out hundreds for a bottle of Château Lynch-Bages; you simply need to learn about the vino you are already drinking. Buy a wine encyclopedia, take a class—or head to a restaurant with a sommelier who likes to educate patrons during the meal. You won’t just think about wine differently; you will taste it differently.

3. Don’t buy boxed sets of DVDs. Economist Tyler Cowen says that much of the joy we get from our purchases lies in the experience of seeking them out, getting them home, and opening them up. If you receive 18 DVDs in one package, you’ll use up the buzz all at once. Buy them one at a time and space out the pleasure.