I’m about half way through my experiment of delight. During the month of February, I have decided to follow my delights no matter what happens. 13 days in, it has been interesting. My views have morphed a bit; some things have fallen by the wayside and some new things have been added. If you’re interested, here are some haphazard thoughts on how delight has impacted my life so far:
I just want to love people. As I have oriented my focus around delight, the way I relate to people has changed. Now, I just want to feel and express love towards others. I discovered this while experimenting with different social responses and asking myself, “does that response make me feel delighted?” and I found that resentment, anger, and indifference all felt bad. But love and acceptance were really delightful! For this month, I have no choice but to feel love towards others. I don’t care if it makes me look stupid or inappropriate. I don’t care if they love me back. None of that matters because I have discovered that the delight is entirely within my own feelings. Loving you makes me feel great no matter what you feel in return.
But… half-assed relationships suck. While it is true that I love you, I don’t want you on the fringes of my life. I have found it to be quite difficult having people in my life who are distant, where we only talk every once in a while. Those relationships are actually less delightful than no relationship at all. We don’t know each other very well, we don’t care enough to spend time together more regularly, so what are we doing? It’s difficult (and unpleasant) to continually be “reconnecting” with the same people in a shallow way. To me, I’ve found it better to make my relationships a little more black/white, focusing on the people who really want to be in my life. There might be fewer of them, but those relationships will be so much more rewarding … This might be the biggest and most important insight so far. I have come to see my social life like a house: you’re welcome to come inside or you’re welcome to leave, but please get out of the doorway.
My novel… Yikes! I wrote about 25,000 words (1/3) of my novel and I hit a wall. It’s not that I have writer’s block. I could force myself to keep writing if needed, but the work is just totally undelightful in every way. It became a struggle to sit there and type out this novel, so for the time being, I have given it up. I don’t know what this means, but my job in February isn’t to judge my delight, just to feel it. We’ll see what happens…
Negative thoughts gotta go. This seems obvious as I write it, but negative thoughts are totally undelightful. And therefore, not acceptable during my month of delight. I’ve actually found it quite easy to say “this thought is not bringing me delight, let’s change it.” As I recognize how important delight is to me, and how much negative thinking detracts from that delight, it is pretty easy to cut it off before it gets out of control. For whatever reason, thoughts of happiness, positive outcomes, love, and self-worth lead me down a path of endless delight. But negative thoughts pour my happiness right down the drain. Forget balance, I’m just trying to tip the scales towards positivity as much as possible.
Computers are undelightful. I hate using the internet and computers for anything other than specific tasks. If I pay attention, it is never delightful to mindlessly stare at a computer screen, browsing the web or compulsively checking web stats. Yet, I love the computer when it helps me perform a task like designing an iPhone app, or sending an email, or talking to all of you. So this is another casualty of my delightful month. I’ve decided that, before I open the lid of my laptop, I must first know exactly what I plan on doing and when I expect to be finished. Then, I do the task and walk away.
Similarly, social media has been a casualty of delight. Other than Twitter, which I really enjoy for some reason, I’ve completely stopped using social media. Facebook makes me want to throw up so I simply walked away. Google+ isn’t too bad, but I don’t have any fun with it, so I’m letting it go as well. Twitter, however, is fun to me. I enjoy connecting with people on that platform, so I’m using it only for reasons of delight. But most of all, I just don’t want to connect with people digitally. I want real people in my real life. If the internet can help with that, great, but it’s only the facilitator for something much different.
Delight isn’t just hedonistic pleasure. Lest you be concerned that I’m simply seeking mindless pleasure all day long, I’ve got news for you. Delight takes many forms. For example, last week I had the inspiration to work on my taxes and it was delightful. Exercise is extremely delightful, as is doing housework or running errands. It’s funny, this focus on delight hasn’t brought me nearly as much “pleasure” as it has positive, stable, and healthy improvements that have boosted my wellbeing and productivity. This is a counterintuitive result, but I am not entirely shocked by it.
Delight can be fuzzy. Going into the experiment, I expected that I would often have a hard time identifying my delights. That has definitely been the case. Humans are terrible at predicting how pleasurable an activity might be. We might expect something to be fun and it ends up miserable. I’m not trying to overcome that fact, I just want to work within those limitations. My goal this month is not so much to be delighted all the time or predict my delights perfectly (both are impossible), but to be aware of how much delight I am experiencing in each moment and make steady improvements if I find my delight-level lacking. It’s a continual process–a habit–that is never finished.
I don’t know if that had any value to you, but it was delightful for me to write it