The little book of pleasure…

It’s 6pm local time on a Friday… after an 80+ hour working week I board my flight home and take my seat by the window. The hostess comes over with the usual “Good evening Mr E… how was your week?” – “Fine thank you”… smiling at her as she hands me my glass of ice water and I hand her my jacket. This is a well rehearsed routine for both of us. With a few exceptions for holidays we have both done this particular flight every week for a very long time. Almost four years in fact. Within a minute or so she is back… excusing herself as she hands me two pillows. I reach down into my trusted old carry-on bag and pull out my favourite travelling companion… place my two small pillows against the plane window and rest my head slowly against them. As the side of my face sinks into the soft pillows I randomly open a page and read the quote on it: ”  Put your lips to an Italian” – Savour a delicious gelato as you melt in the sun… and imagine yourself on Italy’s Amalfi coast on a Sunday !

I put my tiny book away…close my eyes and allow my mind to experience the delightful pleasure of dreaming about lemon gelato whilst on the beach in Positano… at sunset. A smile comes across my face as I gently drift into my own mental bliss.

This is not a scene from a movie or something I dreamed about. This happened for years… and years. The flight I mentioned was one of a few each week… but it was the one I enjoyed the most because it was the last flight home each week. A three hour flight which would’ve been unbearable without my well rehearsed zen routine.

The point here is not to put you off flying… although I would advise you to avoid it like the plague unless it’s taking you on holidays. My point is that although to many it may seem somehow glamorous to be flying a great deal…or simply travelling a lot, I can assure you it’s not fun. Every frequent flyer has his or her own way of coping and trying to make it as bearable and/or comfortable as possible. Some drink (make that a “lot” of them drink), some watch movies, do puzzles, talk to anyone that wants to listen, listen to music, read or pull out some work and try to catch up. On most of my weekly flights “work” was the preference for me… but not on Friday nights. That was my “pleasure flight”… the going home flight – although I have always done the same thing on my way to any situation where I knew there would be confrontation of any kind… be it meetings, negotiations or just ugly scenes for whatever reason. This routine was my way of escaping into my own world… my own mind-scape. No need for expensive gadgets…no need for hoping for a good movie… no need for alcohol or big heavy books. Just my little book of pleasure and my mind.

The point is…it doesn’t take much. There is no need for elaborate rituals, expensive toys or copious amounts of alcohol. All you need to escape into another world of pleasurable thought… is, funny enough, your mind… and a stimulus. For me the stimulus was a ridiculously small book called “the little book of pleasure”… by Paul Wilson. It is about the size of two business cards… small enough to carry anywhere, at any time. In it are about 80 tiny pages with a single thought/quote on each. I have always just randomly opened it and read whatever I landed on… occasionally repeating the process until I landed on something that brought a smile to my face. Then I was off in my own little world.

Let me read you some other quotes from it…

“Give thanks to worms” – wear good quality silk next to your skin and every movement becomes an act of pleasure !

or

“Have your wine salted” – Unwind with a glass of fine wine in a bath of mineral salts… sip the wine as you close your eyes and lose yourself in the bath!

See what I mean? I have been known to be asleep reading that last quote before the plane even takes off. Head on pillows… two second read… eyes close and dreaming begins. That simple !

Needless to say that you don’t need to be flying to do this. You can do it anywhere, anytime. It takes a little discipline to get into the habit of believing that something that simple can work for you… but trust me, your mind is the best gadget ever invented. All it needs is some instructions and the time to produce the most incredibly revitalising thoughts for you. You don’t even need a little book… just the self discipline to be able to think of something that would give you pleasure… and let your mind do the rest. It is the simplest… yet most rewarding skill you can ever develop. Don’t wait for travel… get into the habit of doing it daily at home or even work during your brake. It gives you the freedom to be anyone, feel anything or be anywhere… including Oia ;-)

PS: “The little book of pleasure” is probably out of print now… but I am sure there are thousands of sites on line that would provide the same kind of thing. I’m sure there would be hundreds of little books that have also been published since then. It’s getting into this simple habit that’s the important thing… the things to think about are limitless ;-)

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6 responses to “The little book of pleasure…

  1. I have a little old book call JUST BE GLAD. Though longer than a sentence, the 2 small page affirmations are sweetly calming.

  2. This reminds me of prompts for writing workshops or groups. You read a line or two of a poem and then begin writing and do not stop for one half hour or more. Now, Michael you simply live your own little book of pleasure. ;>)

  3. terrysthinking

    What a great present you gave yourself and those you met up with at your Friday night destination.

    This is a great tip for frequent flyers and those on the journey home.

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Oh yes – the power of the mind! I do it all the time…haven’t tried the lemon gelato but I have dreamt about that Greek cherry ice cream often. I’m not kidding either!
    Catherine

  5. Caro Michael,

    I open a tiny book about “time” for my zen moments. Or your blog. You carry my mind away just the way it wants to go for recharge. I do not even need the gelato stimulant. Beautiful post, Michael. Sheer poetry! Bacione, Ingrid in Umbria

  6. The perfect advice….xv

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