“Choose things in your life that will endure, that are a pleasure to use. Classic clothes never go out of style. Furniture should get better with age. Choose things because they delight you, not because they impress others. And never let things be more important than your family, friends and your own spirit.“
That’s Marney Morris, quoted by Daniel Pink, in his book A WHOLE NEW MIND: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It is a worthy bit of advice.
In the 1980’s when Steve Jobs and friends launched the first MacIntosh, it was Marney Morris and her interactive software design company Animatrix, who put together a lively and entertaining “guided tour” of that historic machine. The guide helped the technologically challenged to bravely enter the intimidating world of computers and get good at it.
Since then Morris has continued to explore interactive design and has helped hundreds of corporations and thousands of end-users connect and engage with each other.
She knows a lot about design and how it affects the way you live your life. She’s been a speaker at various conferences and teaches a popular course on Interactive Design at Stanford University as well.
I figured it would be worthwhile to take her advice: to choose to fill my world with things that give me pleasure. It’s been amazing how well this strategy is working.
PRACTICING CHOOSING PLEASURE
I’ve been working on making sure that the stuff I hang onto in my life are like the ones Morris praises: enduring things that are a pleasure to use, a joy to look at. One really good pan — beat-up and banged-up, but perfectly suited for making that special soup or the best omelet or whatever — beats out a whole bunch of handsome, copper bottomed things that just don’t work right.
I am making a practice of looking over the stuff that surrounds me and letting go of the things that just don’t delight me. The result of that one practice seems to be a much happier, warmer, softer me.
Every place I look now there’s something that evokes a fond memory or arrests my attention yet again because it is intriguing or is the most effective tool I’ve got for the job I need to be addressing. All of that seems to smooth down my feathers and makes me feel all fluffy and warm. There are no jarring notes in my immediate surroundings. It’s all good, heartful, useful stuff.
CHOOSING DELIGHTFUL PEOPLE
I can live with that, I am thinking. And if I carry that concept over and use it to look at the people in my world, and I choose to hang with the delightful ones who make me feel loved and safe and warm, well…that’s a very good place to be, isn’t it?
Maybe the quality of a life is kind of like the quality of a good stew. If you use the very best ingredients, prepare them properly and mix them all up well, then the stew is very, very good. It’s a lot harder to screw it up.
MORE LIFE-DESIGN THOUGHTS
The YouTube video below is actually a radio interview by host Dr. W. F. Strong at GoodBooksRadio. In it he interviews co-author Dave Evans who wrote DESIGNING YOUR LIFE: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life with Bill Burnett. It came out in September, 2016 and was a #1 New York Times bestseller.
The authors have also put together a website, also called Designing Your Life, that Evans says contains additional tools for building the life you want. You might want to check it out as well….
And here’s a poem:
Old friends call to spend the words
They’ve saved up for me,
Telling me their lives,
Bringing me up-to-date.
It is good to hear
Their voices as they
Chime around each other,
Telling me their days.
And, I think as I hear them,
How the years have taken us
Away from each other
But not away from ourselves.
For they are still who they are,
As I am still who I am,
And we still like each other,
Even though we don’t always agree.
Maybe we’re just not
by Netta Kanoho
Picture credit: “One More Cup of Coffee” by duygu via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
SOME OTHER POSTS TO EXPLORE
(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)
Thanks for your visit. I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.
10 thoughts on “CHOOSING PLEASURE”
While I do agree with many of your points here, I still feel that a lot of times, people do not have a choice in being around positive friends and family members. Sometimes we just get stuck.
Many times in my life, I realised that the friends who really care about me actually make me uncomfortable. This is because they are always challenging my opinions and beliefs, in order to make me see a different perspective. This in turn makes me wiser.
Just my two cents. Nonetheless, great article!
Hey Farhan: Welcome back! You’re right, of course. The ones who challenge you and rub you sideways are great for deepening your understandings sometimes. I guess I LIKE hanging with those guys just as much as I do the Big Mamas and Papas in my life. (There are days when I am being contrary and all the Mamas and Papas kick me out of their warm nests and make me go play with the donkeys. Oh, well…)
Please do come again….
Hi! This was a great, thought-provoking article!
What’s your take on delayed gratification? I’m curious because what if we can’t choose pleasure now for a greater pleasure tomorrow. I do understand that we can’t count that tomorrow will actually come but how would we balance it out? For example, sacrificing social time with friends and family to be able to hit a business milestone.
Thanks again for this article. Loved the poem!
There will always be the tension between now-pleasure and your dreams. In one of my previous posts, I reviewed a book that informs a lot of my thinking about pleasure-now and delayed gratification: THE WAR OF ART. One of the greatest pleasures of all is going after your deepest dreams and, yes, it does mean that there are going to be times when you’ve got to set aside other pleasures. Choosing which ones to enjoy when is always a trip.
Thanks for the visit and for your question. Please do come again….
What a delightful post! I really do agree with this; pleasure is a state of mind and we can take control of our mind, albeit a difficult task.
In my life, I am surrounded by many people who are forever pessimists and don’t bring out the best in me. I’ve realized, however, that while I can’t purely eliminate these influences, I can construct a mental barrier of optimism in their vicinity and attempt to let my joy be contagious.
Moreover, the “practice choosing pleasure” comment is very applicable for me; there is pleasure to be found in so many things, but we often let the stresses of the world consumer us instead.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, A. Jaynes. I like your “mental barrier of optimism.” A most effective antidote, I am thinking. Even if they don’t get it, you are making your stance strong. Cool!
Please do come again.
Hello, and thank you for this thought- provoking article! Your advice about only keeping and surrounding yourself with the best tools for the job, and the things that truly make you happy is an awesome philosophy to live by!
It reminds me of what my maternal Grandmother always told me – “Don’t love material things, only love people!”. So now, I do have a big tendency to hang on to objects given to me by people that have brought me great happiness in my life!!
I have also learned to surround myself with people who bring out the joy in me, and try very hard to distance myself from people who drain my energy.
I do have a question: How do you really make a person who likes to keep everything go by this philosophy of only keeping the things that bring you great joy, and to finally let go of all the “dreams” of hanging on to something because you see future potential in “one day, I am going to make this into something that works”??
This is a major problem that my husband has, and I am trying my hardest to declutter all the useless objects that are taking up space and inviting negative energy into our home . . . Any advice???
I also love your poem!!
Thanks again for this very inspiring article – these are truly Words To Live By!!
Ah, yes…the eternal “what do you do with the not-happy-making junk that somebody you love piles up all around you” question that every de-clutterer and wanna-be minimalist in the world has had to face (since the beginning of time, I think).
Every relationship counselor in the world probably has some sort of “solution” or other and all of them are likely to be pretty similar and mostly lame.
It seems to me that it is a given that one person’s “useless” is another person’s “dream-stuff” and since these people are choosing to share the same limited space, every action one person takes will affect the equilibrium and equanimity of the other one somehow.
The constant wrangling (also known as persuasions, discussions, arguments, negotiations and compromises) can become major bones of contention that may lead to malaise and general discontent, if not all-out civil war.
That makes a whole other movie, it seems to me — one that gets into power struggles, clashes of will, and trying to get the other one to change because “I’m the righter one.”
Do that for a while and the declarations morph into “Somebody’s gotta CHANGE and it’s not gonna be me.”
None of these things are likely to result in pleasure of any sort. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. It sucks.
The ancient wise guys all agree that the biggest problem in this old world is other people.
They also tend to agree that nobody can really change anybody else. We humans don’t get to love anybody else to safety or happiness or any of the other “good stuff” when they don’t want to go there.
And then the wise guys tell you that, for real, you are the only one responsible for your own happy.
And, there you have it. (Yeah, I know. It’s all most unsatisfactory!)
You may want to step back and take a wider look at the situation. You may want to ask, “What brings me the most joy and the greatest pleasures in my life?” You might want to ask, “How would it feel if I had more joy in my life?”
Listen to what your body and your gut and your heart tells you. Notice and feel the feelings you get. Pay attention when your mind starts coming up with ideas about what you can do your own self to get you to the place where there is more of the joy-feeling in your life. Go do more of that and keep on doing it.
If nothing else, looking at how you can make yourself more joyous and happy will at least distract you from trying to meddle in someone else’s life-lessons.
Those are my thoughts, anyway.
Our choices determine happiness and overall state of health. Making the right choice comes from putting yourself first. Even religious books teaches us to consider ourselves first.
The admonishment that we love our neighbours as our self is an example. The first point of consideration is ourselves. If you buy clothe, think of how it benefits you, if you want food, think of how it benefits you first. You must be happy first.
Parameter, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.
Myself, I think that putting ourselves first has to always be balanced with taking care to not be a detriment to others. You don’t go karooming around, bumping into other people’s vessels. Everybody loses then.
I think that our first responsibility is to keep our own boat afloat. It’s a good thing to try to avoid sinking other people’s boats when you’re doing that. It just works better.