All About You: Focus on simple pleasures
EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.
“Simple pleasures are the best.” That’s a lyric from 10-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Bobby McFerrin’s hit song, “Simple Pleasures.”
Most of the song is about McFerrin getting his two young sons ready for school and waking up his wife on a “beautiful day.” He sings about how these “simple” acts make him “so happy.” If you haven’t heard the song, you should check it out. The melody and lyrics are uplifting. (McFerrin’s biggest hit, “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” also inspires high spirits.)
What simple pleasures do you regularly experience? One of my favorites is drinking a cup of coffee in the morning with my wife while watching the birds on our two bird feeders. Spring has arrived and the birds are busy making nests, so they need extra energy. Drinking coffee and watching the birds with my wife makes me “so happy,” too.
What’s great about most simple pleasures is that they’re … well, simple! You don’t have to spend much money or time on them. But because of our modern, fast-paced life, we often barely notice these inexpensive joys.
One pleasure at a time
Today, more than ever, we miss out on the joys of simple pleasures because of our screens. Checking email and Facebook while taking a walk will muddle your senses and rob you of the delight your environment can give you.
Near my home is a small zoo where I regularly take walks. Invariably, I see people walking around with their eyes glued to a smartphone. It’s not smart to do because you miss the ambiance of your unique surroundings – and it’s hazardous!
Because we experience simple pleasures regularly, it’s easy to become numb to their value. Take time to think about how fortunate you are to have so many simple pleasures. Even taking a shower is a privilege millions of people can’t enjoy.
Visualize your pleasures when you’re upset
When you’re feeling down or unsettled, visualizing a pleasant experience can boost your mood. Sure, you can visualize yourself on a beautiful beach or in some other exotic place, but it won’t be nearly as vivid as picturing a scene that is more familiar. When I become anxious, I sometimes envision taking a walk with my dog – a simple pleasure I regularly enjoy.
Use them to practice mindfulness
During my “Mindfully Safe” keynote, I encourage my audience to practice “Seven Habits Guaranteed to Help You Focus Better.” Habit No. 5 is “practice mindfulness for a few moments every day.”
One of the easiest ways to remember to practice this habit is to tie it to a simple daily pleasure. For me, one of those times is when I wash the few dishes that are in the sink before I go to bed. I notice the warm water and how it feels on my hands. Not only does it make the dishwashing experience more pleasant, it helps strengthen my “mental attention” muscle.
With time, this kind of practice will make a marked difference in your ability to focus. What’s nice about doing this is that you can pick any daily activity as a habit hook to practice mindfulness.
Another benefit to this kind of chore attention is that it makes the chore not be a “chore” anymore. I look forward to washing the dishes now. Recently, I stopped using the dishwasher altogether because I want to experience washing the dishes by hand. This may seem strange, but if you try this kind of mindfulness practice with one of your daily chores, I know you’ll eventually find that the chore becomes a simple pleasure.
Sure, vacations, parties and other more extravagant experiences are wonderful, but unlike simple pleasures, they’re not a part of your daily life. Happiness, that often elusive state we strive to achieve, can’t just be found in the Caribbean – it’s also right in your home!
This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.
Richard Hawk helps safety professionals become better leaders through his keynotes, workshops, articles and books so they can create vibrant safety cultures. His popular “Dangerous Daze” keynote teaches employees how to focus better and improve their situational awareness, a key skill to preventing incidents. To contact Richard, visit makesafetyfun.com.
Direct to your inbox: Sign up to be notified in email about new "All About You" columns.