This morning, I witnessed Spring clutching her most radiant bouquet as I walked with her in the company of a new day. I watched the rising sun stretch its rays over the awakening horizon as I hiked up the back of a shady, cool ridge. The soft light crept its way across the city beneath me and slowly made its way up to warm my skin.
Noticing each change of season is one of my favorite simple pleasures — being outside on those days when it’s as if the colors and smells are shifting from moment to moment.
Guilt-free pleasures are those that make you feel balanced and fulfilled, with no concern of consequence or regret.
In those times when life becomes overwhelming, find something for yourself that provides you with hope and fulfillment in that moment. Find ways of simple satisfaction, and treasure what feeds and ignites your body, mind and spirit.
10 ideas for guilt-free, simple pleasures
Get to a bakery when it first opens.
Get up early and make the most of your day. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread and warm pastries, and a steaming cup of coffee or tea can awaken your senses. Sit and enjoy with a newspaper or an uplifting movie on your iPad®. The morning will show you the purity and joy that each day brings.
Send a letter.
Use your favorite stationery and send (real) mail to someone you care about. Write a thoughtful letter or send something fun that you know will make someone else’s day — a favorite photo, a nostalgic record, a delicious recipe. Who knows, maybe later something will show up in your mailbox!
Take a nap.
Taking a short (or extended) nap could be the best thing you could do for yourself during a hectic day or stressful week. If you have the time, don’t set an alarm, and let your body tell you when it feels rested and ready to thrive.
Go phone-free for an afternoon (or longer).
Being constantly “plugged-in” can be physically and emotionally draining, and you may not even realize it. Think of how freeing it would be to feel no obligation to anyone or anything — just for a few hours. Give your email, Facebook and phone a break, and give yourself some much-needed attention.
Sometimes one of the best ways to connect with nature is to really feel it beneath your feet. If you can go to a beach, give your soles an exfoliating massage in the sand for all their long-standing efforts. A park with fresh, green grass can be just as satisfying for your senses.
Browse a bookstore.
Get lost in shelves of wisdom and inspiration. What a privilege to be able to thumb through the thoughts and creativity of brilliant minds — even those who hold opinions contrary to your own! Every day is a chance to become enlightened in some way.
Listen to rain. Watch snow fall.
It doesn’t matter what season it is — you can always appreciate Mother Nature’s beautiful gifts. Thunderstorms are both humbling and exhilarating, a perfect display of power and performance. A snowy morning asks you to slow down and appreciate the pristine sparkle of the season, to watch the joy and hear the serenity. Use your senses to enjoy every part of natural wonder.
Have a good laugh.
Your friends and family are the best source for this cure-all remedy. Spread your smiles, and make laughter contagious.
Take a bubble bath.
Use your favorite bath salts and bubbles to draw a hot bath. Make it even more relaxing with dim lighting and candles. Before your bath, create a new playlist with your most calming or uplifting music. Have a fuzzy terrycloth bathrobe waiting for you when you get out.
Take time for yourself.
There will be days when it’s hard to find time to engage in simple pleasures, but it doesn’t have to take much to find gratitude every day. Take a moment, any moment that you have, to close your eyes and breathe. Be thankful for the life you have to live, the people you have to share it with and the simple joys that make it worth living.
We asked experts, authors and readers like you to share their stories of Hope. Every day for the next month, you’ll find new tips for optimism on Gaiam Life, the Stream of Consciousness blog and our social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And don’t miss the GaiamTV.com Hope Film Festival, with FREE films all month long.