A while ago I wrote about delights. I said that if the universe wanted to evolve our lives in new ways, it would do so through our delights. The specific quote I posted was this:

“It’s been said by evolutionary biologists and behavioral psychologists, that if the universe wanted to move a human being in a particular direction, that based on what we know of human nature, it would do it through what delights us. Not through punishment or desire, but through delight.”

I believe that wholeheartedly. In fact, I’m ready to show myself exactly how much I believe it. For the month of February, I am going to allow my delights – and only my delights! – to direct every move I make. No major plans, commitments, or schedules. Just spontaneous delight, moment-by-moment.

The practice is simple. I will continually ask myself, “what would delight me most in this moment?” and then go do that.

So, why am I doing this?

The short answer is that I believe what I said earlier, that delights lead us forward in positive ways. As always, there are many unanswered questions in my life and many areas in which I could evolve. Letting my delights lead me from this point forward seems like a worthwhile experiment at worst, and a profound new habit at best. A month will give me enough time – and enough feedback – to determine how successful this approach can be in my life.

If this sounds insane, that’s probably because it is. Logically, I could foresee many terrible things happening. But, in my world, logic isn’t nearly as powerful as belief.

I believe in the power of delight. I believe in the organizing structure of the universe to catch us when we finally have enough faith to lean back and trust the process. I believe that, when we follow our hearts (our delights!), nothing can ever really go wrong. It is time to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and dive into delight.

But this isn’t quite as scary as it sounds. Think about it: how can you ever go wrong with delight? By very definition, you can’t be miserable while also being delighted. Unless I’m missing something, shouldn’t this be the most enjoyable month of my life? :)

But is delight sustainable all the time?

If you confuse delight with pure happiness or pleasure, no. But delight is the expression of joy in its most pure form. Delight simply says: “The core of my being longs to enjoy this right now.”

Within that context, you can go through the full spectrum of ups and downs of normal life. Delight can be sad (like watching a sad movie), stressed (like giving an exhilarating speech), productive (like cooking or doing engaging work), or a myriad other things. The way I see it, delight is the expression of daily life at its optimal emotional state. That, unlike happiness or pleasure, is a sustainable practice.

So my journey this month is to get in touch with that core feeling and to follow it wherever it takes me. There will most certainly be a pruning process that strips away some undelightful things, as well as a growth process that adds new delightful areas to my life.

The “pruning” is perhaps the most scary aspect. It requires that I be willing to give up any of my commitments if needed. What if, for example, I find myself not delighting in this blog? I would have to give it up until it becomes delightful. Luckily for you, writing these blog posts is one of the most enjoyable things in my life and I expect to continue. But I’m sure there are other areas where it will be difficult to say “this doesn’t delight me” and drop it at that.

As much as my delight permits, I’ll keep you updated on this process with any valuable insights. February should be a delightful month. Literally. :)



13 Responses to “A February of Delight”

  1. I LOVE this, Andrew, and can’t wait to read more about it. Delight was actually my chosen word for this entire year… and while my life is not quite at a point where I can be following it 24/7, I’m using it as a guiding star, of sorts, as I’m crafting my life. Doing client work I don’t delight in is sometimes a means to an end right now, but I’m paying attention to the kinds I do delight in and how I can bring more of those into my life. Looking forward to following along (as long as the writing continues to be delightful for you, which hopefully is a long time.)

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    • Yes! I remember you said that delight was your “word of the year” and it’s obviously a big focus for me as well. Sure, no need to be all crazy dramatic like me, just find ways to move more in the direction of your delights and everything will work out. Thanks for the delightful comment :)

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  2. Normally, I wouldn’t buy into only focusing on positive because I’m a realist, but the way you describe delight – “The core of my being longs to enjoy this right now.” – I could see how I could make that work. Even the dullest of chores can be made delightful :)

    Great post, and I like the simplicity of your site’s design (first time here) it’s very easy on the eyes & great for reading :)

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    • Thanks, Denise. Yes, the thing is, delight isn’t even necessarily “positive” it’s more of a feeling that you’re doing what you want to be doing. While we have been trained to do lots of things we don’t want to do, I’m speculating that those unpleasant tasks aren’t even necessary when we’re following our delights. We shall see! :)

      I appreciate the comments about the site design, too.

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  3. i am delighted by this!! now i want to do it too!

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    • Well I’m delighted that you’re delighted! So far so good, but I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot of “pruning” of undelightful things over the course of this month… I’ll keep the blog updated with anything exciting.

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    • question though… what’s the difference between delight and desire? to me they seem similar.. but the quote might suggest otherwise.

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      • That’s a good question. I think delight is similar to desire but in a more beneficial sense. Desire often involves clinging, suffering, and painful emotions. But delight is like a happy puppy that you can’t resist. It’s just the expression of what the deeper part of you (not just the ego) really wants. Delight is also more active, like something you do, whereas desire is passive.

        That’s kind of how I see the difference, but good question, I could probably write another 1,000 words and still not be totally clear.

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  4. Ooh, “Delight”! Love the word. I had been using “Joy” but I think I prefer delight. Joy was bugging me because it sounded too much like a Christmas card term …

    Joy: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight.

    Delight: a high degree of gratification : joy; also : extreme satisfaction.

    Ha! I didn’t know they were going to be listed as synonyms. I like the delight definition better. I’m not so interested in the “success” aspect and the “possessing what one desires” sounds so material.

    Looking forward to your delightful February and your findings.

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    • I see that both you and Janet have gotten stuck on the words. The word delight isn’t what’s important, it’s about the state of being like a happy puppy eager to explore and enjoy its world.

      Right, not so much about success or possession, more like an in-the-moment gratification. I like your definitions.

      “Joy was bugging me because it sounded too much like a Christmas card term …” hahaha…

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  5. In honor of February Delights, here’s what delighted me this morning: Tart Tangerine Twist.

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