Originally published in Comfort Zone Newsletters: November 2007.
There are a great many pleasures in life, but some are ones that non-HSPs rarely seem to comment on, so that we can miss the fact that we are probably having quite a few of these pleasures. They do not create an obvious feeling of Wow. I suspect they are instinctual, archetypal, evolved sorts of things. Anyway, they are so off the beaten pleasure track that you, like me, have probably not given them much thought. But once I thought of the first one, an entire list grew. I am sure you can add to the list. They are there, we do enjoy them, so why not do it more consciously? Here are a few to savor.
- Seeing under—under the surface of the ocean was the example that started all of this. I am passionate about snorkeling and also enjoy underwater photography. But just seeing the surface makes me happy in a certain quiet way, imagining what’s underneath—whales, mysterious fish… I think we also like seeing underneath the surface of peoples’ personas, or under the surface content of a dream. Or just peering under a bush. An Easter egg hunt. I suppose I should include seeing under skirts. What do you like to see under?
- Tautness. We humans love a taut string—a kite string, a balloon, reins, muscles, the lines of a sail, a dog’s leash, an archery bow, a handy clothes line, knitting, the game Cat’s Cradle, or the strings of a cello, violin, or harp. There is a theory that this pleasure comes from when we were in the womb, clutching our life line, the umbilical cord.
- Dirt. HSPs probably do not like to be dirty, but the smell and touch of fresh soil is very nice for any human, I think. The look of freshly turned earth as well. Our ancestors must have signed, “Here we can plant seed and expect a harvest.”
- Landscapes, when they include together water, grass, and trees. We love that combination. We like paintings of these, camp sites, vacation spots, gardens, and home locations having them. This is thought to be due to the fact that these were the necessities of life for so many millennia.
- Large living things. Tall trees. Redwoods. “Old growth.” Large animals—a horse, cow, elephant, whale, gorilla. We’d like to be near the gentle ones if they would let us, but the largest shark, snake, or spider also fascinates. I suppose we like all things that are large—oceans, canyons, mountains.
- Being far enough into nature to not see any signs or printed material. No words to run through that part of your brain. It’s so restful.
- Getting warm when you’ve been cold, getting cool when you’ve been hot.
- Picking berries, finding nuts on the ground that you can eat, discovering wild edible foods.
- The fresh air near the ocean or waterfalls, or under large trees.
- Orderliness. Organizing and sorting. Getting things done. It’s all about combating the Third Law of Thermodynamics, which living systems do constantly in order to survive. Get things where they belong, the groceries inside, the dirt outside, the clutter into the closets, the needed things out of the drawers, and so on, as with the body, food in and elimination out, fresh air in and old air out, skin keeping things out and other parts letting things in.
- Music, a beautiful flower, a clever drawing or painting—these please everyone, but what about the pleasure of noticing how strange and wonderful it is that we seem to be the only animals to have developed music, art, and an aesthetic sensitivity?
- Dreams. How amazing to ponder the strange wisdom of this parallel world happening at night. Who gives you that way of seeing things that had never occurred to you?
- The changing unchanging—watching ocean waves, the wind in trees, flickering flames, rivers and streams, passing clouds, the seasons, the rising full moon, the stars.
- The very young. I suppose evolution really does a number on us here, but those cute little things are so irresistible, whether they are human or some other species.
- Pets. They connect with us so sweetly, and in so doing they connect us to all that is safe, joyous, and caring in the natural world.
- Being taken care of. Being touched with tenderness. A blanket tucked around you. Having to do nothing in return, maybe not even having to say “thank you.”
- Being safe in bed when you are tired. And falling asleep.