Small Pleasures by The School of Life (Part 1)

This book will guide us to the life’s small pleasures

Preface. This book examines the 52 of life’s small pleasures. These are not usually widely celebrated. This book covers each one in detail. Small pleasures are often not well understood.

Small pleasures turn out not to be small at all: they are points of access to the great themes of our lives. – The School of Life

It can at first sound slightly strange to say that we don’t automatically and naturally know how to enjoy ourselves. But the pursuit of pleasure is a skill which we need to learn. – The School of Life

The Fish Shop. You stare in awe of the beauty and strangeness of the sea creatures. Oysters have their own home. They might seem weird, but we co-habit the same planet. We share the same ancestors. Looking at a dead fish can re-enhance us. We become fascinated by nature. Learn to appreciate the smell of salt and water and ice. Learn to develop a sense of pleasure of something wholesome and full.

We’ve been too hasty; we’re overlooked almost everything. The world is full of fascination; there is so much to be explored. And we have been led to this renewed appetite by the head of a fish. – The School of Life

Small Islands. You examine the island from afar, from the comfort of a passenger airline. You will big and in control on a small island. You will feel large. The island is small enough for you to take a drive. The scenery is impressive and you can spot hills and various streets. Life’s problems are not easily solved. Our longing for control leads to frustration. The small island feels good because it is contained and you can get anywhere in a short drive. Things start to become familiar on a small island and you become intimate to them.

A small island is not just a place on the map; it’s a psychological destination, a model of simplifying your life and making do with what is immediately to hand. – The School of Life

Stars. There are so trillions of trillions of stars out there, but we don’t notice them. We feel humbled being so small. From Earth, we can appreciate the magnitude of the cosmos. The stars look packed but in essence, they are so far apart from one another. We have no control over the cosmos and it is wonderful indeed. You don’t need to be a science professional to learn to appreciate the night sky. It is a sense of grandeur.

The stars matter in our lives because they offer a consoling encounter with grandeur, because they invite a helpful perspective on the brevity and littleness of human existence. – The School of Life

The regular appreciation of these and related small pleasures makes a major contribution to the elusive but crucially important notion of the quality of existence. – The School of Life

Grandmothers. You have spent some time just with your grandma. She showed you some of the things that mattered most to her. She can be a transitional object. It provides some form of psychological lifeline back to maternal love and security. The child can feel safe and discuss problems with her. As she is old, she understands fragility well. In addition, she knows her time on Earth is limited and will learn to appreciate its existence. She is still concerned for you, no matter what. She is cozy and wise. It is lovely when she reads to you. Her love is unconditional and she will love you whether you will do well in school or not. She just wants your presence. There is an absence of desire, which is very unique in today’s world. We all like tenderness.

Because her love is unconditional, it has the potentially maddening tendency to look right past some of your actual merits, which are the present focus your own sense of who you are. – The School of Life

The Friend who Listens. We need to learn to focus on friendship. No one has listened to us in the past. Society focuses too much on speaking. People are curious and love to keep asking questions. People who listen reconnect your chat and talk about philosophical ambitions. Good listeners don’t moralize and do not interrupt. They reassure us. They are happy for us to be vulnerable. They separate disagreement from criticism. Good listeners help to make society better for everyone.

Take-off. It is an amazing feeling when the plane first ascends. We can see the immense horizon. We can cover so much ground in the air. It is a display of power. Our eyes try to decipher what we see from the air. From the plane, our world appears so small. The clouds seem like perfect seats for an angel. It seems cool to eat among the clouds and we feel homely. The clouds make it tranquil and life seem peaceful.

And to think that all along, hidden from our sight, our lives were this small: the world we live in but almost never see; the way we must appear to the hawk and to the gods. – The School of Life

A Night Alone in a Hotel. You stay in a hotel overnight near the airport and can hear the planes roaring away. You ordered room service and your food is served. It is difficult for you to fall asleep as you switch on the TV. In a foreign land, not being able to sleep might be a blessing. You get to relax here and return to yourself. That day, you do not think of the difficult questions like where is your career going etc. No one will disturb you and you think about life. For tonight, insomnia is a gift for you to understand yourself better.

Sunbathing. You are in Rhodes to get more sunshine. The sky is blue and you have been craving sunshine for the longest time. You hardly miss winter at all. You feel you long for the sun. Sunshine is indeed a welcome respite. You need the virtues of the South too. You have come in search for wisdom and balance.

Sunshine is an agent of moral qualities: of generosity, courage, the appreciation of the present moment, confidence…When the world seems bountiful, material accumulation looks less impressive. – The School of Life

The Desert. You are in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing to compare to. You will feel intimate with yourself in the desert. Meditate on your utter insignificance. The desert is indifferent to your life. It gives you a renewal of perspective. The Universe is mightier than you and you have to accept its power.

Everything we do and are is in truth meaningless – when considered from a sufficient distance, from the perspective of the timeless stones, the boundless vistas, the infinite heavens. – The School of Life

We are frail and temporary and have no alternative but to accept the limitations on our will; that we must bow to necessities greater than ourselves. – The School of Life

Finding Your Feet Abroad. You might experience language difficulties. Everything seems foreign to you. Shyness is not an option. When you travel, you learn to be more confident. Smiling is indeed really useful. There is nothing to fear.

There is vast quantity of goodwill circulating in the world just below the surface and which we usually delve into too rarely. But now perhaps we can more often. – The School of Life

Being Up Late at Night. Late at night is when your mind has time to wander. There are infinite possibilities. We can tolerate all our possibilities. It is just us and the Universe and there are no expectations of us late at night.

The Charm of Cows. Cows are great and are not selfish. They are also easy-going and easily satisfied. They also protect their dignity. They harbor no bitterness. It doesn’t judge you. They do not care what you think of them. Looking at them can make your day.

Up at Dawn. It’s 5:45am. The sky is starting to turn purple. It looks impressive but you realize you hardly see it because you are asleep. Dawn is when you forgot everything that happened yesterday. This place looks magical. The human world will drown them out. You are missing the delicate things in life. The air feels fresh. You start to pay attention to nature and the things around you more in the morning. There is beauty in the tower block and you realized there is life out and about. You say hi. You feel at ease in the world and you feel serene. Every day is a fresh start and that is the good thing about life.

You can’t make there be 25 hours in the day. Yet now it does feel like you are in possession of an extra slice of existence; it’s always been there, but you’ve only just found it. – The School of Life

Staring out of the Window. It can seem like a waste of time as it serves no purpose. This is associated with boredom. It is essentially about figuring out what is in your mind. There is a lot of unexplored potential in our mind. Looking outside the window will give us a different perspective of life. Our ideas are like birds fluttering. We need purpose-free calm. We should learn the prospect of daydreaming. We miss the simple pleasures of looking out a window.

Window daydreaming is a little strategic rebellion against the excessive demands of immediate pressures – in favour of the diffuse, but very serious, search for the wisdom of the unexplored deep self. – The School of Life

A Hot Bath. It is easy to get carried away imagining a happy life. Focus on the reliable pleasures and satisfaction. A hot bath is one such example. You start by adjusting the temperature. You understand the hard work that is required to bring hot water to you. The bath allows us to be cozy. It is especially good in cold weather. The pleasure of the bath is primarily intellectual. They produce productive thinking. In many religions, bathing is a ritual that is strictly followed. Taking hot baths is your own virtue. They still have a wonderful way of influencing the psyche.

Indulgent Pessimism. Pessimism can indeed be a source of pleasure. It might a good strategy to safeguard happiness. We get disappointed when things go according to expectations. Anticipating the worst is a good idea.

Therefore, the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to recognize that our griefs are not incidental or passing, but a fundamental aspect of existence which will only get worse – until the worst of all happens. – The School of Life

The pleasure of pessimism isn’t linked to being mean or bitter. It’s grounded, in fact, on sympathy. This is an antidote to the oppressive modern demand to look only on the bright side. – The School of Life

Self-Pity. Self-pity can be painful. We lament our small problems which in the grand scheme of things don’t matter much. We feel it quite often. Life can be harsh sometimes. Therefore, we deserve pity and since no one there to give us any, we shall supply a fair dose of it to ourselves. We should not lose the act of self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself is a coping mechanism. This will tell us we are misunderstood and undemanding and in need for love.

Crushes. You cannot stop looking at her. You sense a crush but she disappears afterwards. It can happen to another. This might seem like a small moment but it could be developed into something bigger. This is the perfect form of philosophy. We imagine an image of beauty. In reality, such a person might be different from what we imagined. You can’t put a crush into practice so simply. The pleasure of imagining an ideal person is great and can bring some joy.

Keeping Your Clothes On. It is assumed that sex scenarios are associated with nudity.In fact, it stems between the contrast between prohibition and acceptance. Deliberately keeping clothes on can prove to be a turn-on as a way to heighten excitement. You might retain a sense of anticipation. It might seem thrilling. You are toying or the other party is toying with the privileges of permission when you are trying to keep your clothes on.

Kissing. Kissing is nice. It helps us to deepen our appreciation for someone. Why is kissing so significant and potentially so exciting? Sexual excitement is psychological. Something happens in our brains. Kissing has been built up as a social norm to mean that I accept you – accept you so much that I will take a big risk with you. It is psychologically pleasing. Kissing provides a brief break from loneliness. There is no need to analyze why kissing is pleasurable.

Children’s Drawings. Drawings can be very pleasing. Their artwork possesses a form of inner balance and well-being. Their art is an evidence of trust. Adults are more wary people. We are often hit by waves of anxiety. There is beauty in inaccuracy in children’s art too. They are not concerned with whether what they do is right or not. We live in a complex and modern society. Innocent trust and imagination tend to be lacking in adults. Children’s art provide an opportunity for us to know our own needs.

Crimes in the Newspaper. You had a rough day but you read some articles on crimes in the newspapers. Why should one find pleasure in this sort of things? These criminals actually look normal. The criminals are too strange and make our strangeness seem not that remarkable after all. In contrast to the atrocities that Hitler committed, you are nothing in comparison.

But the truth is we’re not actively egging on criminals, we’re not glad these things happened. On the contrary, it’s the very fact that they are clearly so wrong that generates our moments of satisfaction. – The School of Life

You’ve felt furious, suffered from envy and had periods of money worries – but you never did what they did. You absorbed your pain rather than committed crimes. Their villainy reveals your quiet moral heroism. – The School of Life

Driving on the Motorway at Night. You are driving at 10:15pm. The car feels powerful and you feel purposive. Our mind, at times, doesn’t like to think. While driving, it also helps with our thinking. Driving is not too stressful. Sometimes, our mind might drift but nothing actually happens to us.

You are experiencing an underappreciated but important satisfaction that deserves a special name: driving therapy. – The School of Life

It’s strangely attractive, at night in the middle of a long solo drive, to stop at a service station. Ordinarily that’s got close to zero appeal. But now it’s pleasing to change tempo, to sit silently amongst other human beings and have a coffee. – The School of Life

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