Simple Pleasures – Deep, Genuine Experiences for Happiness

The sun is shining on a wonderfully warm spring day. For the first time in months, your arms are exposed to the fresh outdoor air, and for a few moments your close your eyes and lift them towards the sun. In those moments, you welcome the sensation of the sun soaking into your skin, the heat warming your cheeks, and a cool breeze tugging at your hair. 

Simple pleasures are waiting for us in every moment. They happen when we delight in our senses and are fully present to them. Simple pleasures are finding little things that bring us joy, things that bring us down into the moment and make us feel truly alive. 

Paying attention to the things that bring us joy is part of living a healthy, fulfilling life. That being said, embracing pleasure isn’t always easy or comfortable right away. Pressures, to-do lists, and self-judgment can cloud our perspectives, making it difficult to bask in a few moments of sunshine. So, how do we start enjoying the simple pleasures of life? Let’s dive in to find out. 

Finding the simple pleasures in life means paying attention to the small things that bring one joy.”

What Are Simple Pleasures?

Bird watching - Simple Pleasures - Gone Minimal
Bird watching

Simple pleasures are anything that brings one joy and peace, even for just a few moments. They can be as small as watching a daisy swaying in the breeze, or as extravagant as a luxurious bath with candles. Everyone is going to find pleasure in different things, so the first thing to do is to ask yourself what brings you pleasure and joy. 

There’s a bit of a misconception that happiness is achieved through success, accomplishments, and something you can post about on social media. While those things can definitely make you feel good, they’re not sustainable. That path focuses on the big picture with a constant fix on the future and what can be gained; what can be achieved. 

Simple pleasures are small, everyday experiences or activities that bring happiness and a sense of well-being. They are often uncomplicated and easily accessible. What’s most important is to tune in to the present moment, savor the experience, and find joy in the little things that bring you joy.

Here’s a helpful video that explains how true happiness is gained by appreciating the simple things in life: 

What I love about simple pleasures is it brings one down into the moment, and helps one focus on what is right in front of them. It helps one see how simple and wonderful a perfectly ordinary life can be. 

What Does the Simple Pleasures in Life Mean?

Finding the simple pleasures in life means paying attention to the small things that bring one joy. It is being present to your senses and indulging in them. 

For example, have you ever taken a bite of a warm brownie that was just taken out of the oven? Did you allow yourself to fully embrace the sensations of that single, delicious bite? The rich chocolate taste coating your mouth and its perfect, gooey texture? 

These are the simple pleasures of life. It’s delighting in the gifts that are right before you, and that are often taken for granted. 

Man drinking espresso - Simple Pleasures - Gone Minimal
Man drinking espresso

Examples of Simple Pleasures

Life is waiting for you to delight in it and to welcome joy. If one is feeling down or unsure of what may bring them pleasure, it’s helpful to break it down into categories. We can find pleasure no matter where we are – in our home, at work, with family and friends, and when we’re by ourselves. Let’s take a look at some examples. 

When we intentionally spend time in nature and appreciate the simple pleasures that can be found there, it helps bring us down into a state of peace and calm.”

Simple Pleasures at Home

For me, I absolutely love the sight of sunlight streaming in through living room windows and lazily stretching across the carpet. This is an example of finding pleasure in the most simple of things by just taking the time to notice and appreciate them. The home is full of simple pleasure waiting to be discovered, such as: 

  • The smell of freshly brewed coffee.
  • A clean and cozy living room.
  • Spending quality time with beloved pets or houseplants.
  • Fully enjoy a home-cooked meal – try to savor each bite.
  • Listening to beautiful music as one relaxes on the couch. 
  • Reading a book. 
  • Watching a movie with your favorite person.
  • Drinking a cup of herbal tea before bed. 
  • Taking a bath or shower. 
Cooking - Simple Pleasures - Gone Minimal

As crazy as it sounds, one can even find pleasure in the most mundane of tasks, such as doing the dishes, folding laundry, or cooking dinner. How can you find pleasure in such a thing? Well, for starters these are things that you do to take care of yourself and your household. Keeping that in mind helps one have gratitude for those tasks because we all know it’s much harder to do something if we feel negative about it the whole time. 

The next time you do the dishes, I encourage you to find pleasure in it, in whatever way you can. One thing that helps me is by putting on music that I can sing along with. I can find so much joy in doing the dishes if I can sing and have fun during the experience. 

Simple Pleasures at Work

Yes, going to work can be enjoyable if you take moments to delight in simple pleasures. If you sit at a desk near a window, take some time to look at the sky or a nearby tree. Maybe watch a bird for a few moments if you can. Here are some other things you can try to find simple pleasures at work: 

  • Practice gratitude for your coworkers. 
  • Find beauty on your morning commute – you can find it in the scenery, the sky, or your music.
  • Delight in your morning coffee and/or breakfast. 
  • Listen to some good music, if you can. 
  • Be present to your tasks. 
  • Focus on and appreciate the positive aspects of your job. 
Family walking in a field - Simple Pleasures- Gone Minimal
Family walking in a field

Focusing on little things that bring you joy can make your work life so much better, especially if you’re doing a job you don’t enjoy. It’s so easy to focus on what you dislike about your job, your coworkers, your boss, etc. Instead of putting energy into negative thinking, maybe try finding things you enjoy about your job, no matter how little they are. Practice gratitude for what you’re able to have through your job, such as your home, gifts you’ve bought yourself or others, and the paycheck you receive. 

Science has confirmed that focusing on simple pleasure each day can help offset the negative experiences we face. To learn more, check out this study from The University of Chicago Press Journals. 

Note: if you’re finding that your job isn’t fulfilling for you and your life, don’t be afraid to make a change! There are always new opportunities one can discover. 

Simple Pleasures with Family and Friends

Spending quality time with family and friends can truly be the best time! Especially if you’re doing an activity you all love, or you’re having a deep conversation that brings you closer together. Here are some ways you can find simple pleasure with your loved ones: 

  • Doing a fun activity together, such as a board or card game. 
  • Having dinner together where you intentionally listen and ask each other questions. 
  • Practice noticing and appreciating what you love about each member of your family. 
  • Have a deep conversation with a close friend.
  • Baking and cooking together. 
  • Supporting and listening to them during rough times. 
  • Giving a gift they’ll love. 
  • Doing little things to help them out. 

Noticing the simple pleasures we receive when spending time with friends and family can make time spent together that much more special.

Dinner - Simple Pleasures - Gone Minimal

Simple Pleasures Outdoors

The great outdoors is full of magical pleasures. The common expression, “take some time to smell the roses” has never been more applicable. Taking the time to smell wonderfully aromatic flowers is one of my absolute favorite simple pleasures. 

The next time you’re outside or out on a walk, I want to encourage you to try these things: 

  • Smell and fully take in the flowers you find along your path (if it’s spring or summer). Notice how the scents make you feel.
  • Really listen to the wind blowing through the leaves. It creates such a mesmerizing sound. 
  • Close your eyes and feel the air against your skin. 
  • Notice how beautiful the sunlight is streaming through the trees or spreading across the land. 
  • Place your bare hands and/or feet in the dirt. Smell the earth. 
  • Watch and listen to the birds. 
  • If an animal such as a squirrel comes along your path, stop and observe it for a moment. 
  • Practice being present to the natural world around you. 

When we intentionally spend time in nature and appreciate the simple pleasures that can be found there, it helps bring us down into a state of peace and calm. Just for that walk, we can let go of the day thus far, slow down our racing thoughts, and be present to the simple beauty all around.

Nature - Simple Pleasures - Gone Minimal

Simple Pleasures Alone

Alone time can be truly rejuvenating for the spirit. This time can be spent connecting with ourselves, resting, and doing things that bring us joy. To make time alone that much more enjoyable, we can practice focusing on the simple pleasures of being alone. Such as: 

  • Dancing.
  • Singing.
  • Resting.
  • Being creative without distractions.
  • Daydreaming.
  • Listening to your favorite music or podcast. 
  • Meditating. 
  • Journaling/reflecting on your life and goals. 
  • Checking in with yourself – how are you doing? 

By spending time alone and doing things that bring us pleasure, we can find greater peace and happiness in our lives. Time alone is so necessary for finding what brings you joy. 

It’s clearly evident that by doing things that bring us pleasure we will find greater happiness. If one is interested in diving deep into the relationship between pleasure and happiness, check out this study about the neuroscience of happiness and pleasure from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). 

Daydreaming - Simple Pleasures - Gone Minimal

Related Insights:

What Are Some Simple Joys of Life?

Some simple joys of life are things like the beauty of nature, the smile of your lover, holding your child’s hand, and listening to your favorite music. Simple joys are all around, it is simply up to us to notice them. 

What Are the Greatest Joys in Life?

The answer to this will change depending on who you ask, for everyone will have different experiences of what their greatest joy’s in life are. The greatest joys in life are what bring us lasting happiness, fulfillment, and what make us feel alive. They are found when we follow our excitement, our hearts, and our path. 

Why are simple pleasures important?

Simple pleasures are important because they bring us joy and help us appreciate the little things in life. They are especially necessary when we’re going through a hard time and need something to lift our spirit. By focusing on small pleasures every day, it can help us feel lighter and more grateful for the life we live. 

Gardening - Simple Pleasures - Gone Minimal

Some Things That Bring Real People Joy

Because everyone finds simple pleasure in different things, I was curious about what brings my friends and family joy. Here’s what I discovered: 

What Brings JoyTally of Family/Friends
Reading/Listening to a book3
Being in nature2
Being with/watching animals3
Smelling flowers1
Drinking coffee/tea1
Pausing & taking a deep breath1
Doing things to help my future self1
Giving a gift1
Watching the sunrise1
Basking in the sun1
Making someone smile1
Sharing a meal with a loved one1
Violin music1
Dancing 1

Other Resources:

Every day can be filled with simple pleasures if we are willing to welcome joy into our lives. All it takes is presence and appreciation to start noticing all the simple pleasures already around us and within us. I encourage you to find at least 5 simple pleasures each day, so you may welcome more joy into your life. Who knows what you may discover. 

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