4 Ways to Feel Happier with Sensual Living
“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Things have been changing for me in the past couple of months. I was at a point in my life where everything looked great from the outside: I had graduated college with honors; I had my own apartment; I got a new full-time job and numerous freelance opportunities. But still, something was missing.
Something inside me clicked and I realized I just wasn’t happy. And trust me, that was not an easy realization to make. Unhappiness isn’t something we want to admit to ourselves. It sounds so grim: “I’m not happy.”
I’ve always been an information sponge. Always looking for more ways to educate myself and better myself. I decided that my next quest would be the search for happiness.
I studied numerous books and articles about the topic, one after another. I put more and more on my plate, thinking that all of these “happiness resources” have got to help me become a happier person. I had the resources right there in front of me, but still, I wasn’t happy.
That’s when I realized something. Just because I had the information right there in front of me, didn’t mean that I was actually making any true changes inside of my subconscious. Reading article after article about happiness without any real action would not make me a happier person. Reading is not the same as doing. This type of information overflow will simply make me a person who’s more educated on happiness.
So I decided to stop. I decided to stop searching for happiness and start focusing on feeling happiness instead. I stopped searching because I wanted happiness to find me. Better yet, I wanted to find joy.
I decided to say goodbye to my anxieties about finding the solution and just let it go. I decided to learn to trust myself and begin learning who I was at my core. I decided to take on a journey towards something I call “Sensual Living.”
What is Sensual Living? Sensual Living is a way of living life that is more sensuous at its core. It’s about being a more mindful person; a more grateful person; more in-tune with what the body and the mind want, crave, and desire. Sensual living is closely related to mindfulness and pleasure.
How Can I Find Joy Through Sensual Living?
**1. Learn to be okay with who you are at your core. **
You have to learn to be okay with who you are, inside and out. I’ve had my own self-esteem and body image issues ever since I was a young teen, and I still struggle from time to time. Working in the nightlife industry since I was eighteen didn’t help, since I was surrounded by beautiful women with model bodies and men who so blatantly desired them.
One day, I had an epiphany and I realized how ridiculous my obsession with weight was. I realized how terribly I was treating my body with my extreme yo-yo dieting. This was no way to live.
I realized that reaching a goal weight would not magically make me happier with myself. Instead, I decided to focus on just listening to my body and being comfortable with myself—regardless of what society and the media threw at me.
You have to learn to be fine with the way you look, what you enjoy doing, what you dislike, and what your passions are. Even if your likes are not necessarily deemed as “normal” or “conventional.” If you like something that no one else in your circle of friends enjoys, you have to accept that and stop pretending. Your likes and dislikes are part of what makes you, you.
Even though I’ve been a healthy living blogger for almost two years now, I hid this fact from many of my friends simply because I felt like it wasn’t the social norm. After embracing sensual living, I realized that I didn’t want to hide who I was anymore. It’s better to have a few friends who accept and support your passions than having a lot of acquaintances that you feel like you have to hide your true self from.
The sooner you begin to accept yourself as a whole, the sooner you can begin living life with sensual joy.
2. Spend more time doing things that give you pleasure.
We have evolved into a society that shames pleasure even though it is at the very core of our existence. We were made to feel it. That’s why this feeling exists. Once you figure our what you enjoy, you have to make a conscious decision to do these things more often. Don’t deny yourself pleasure just because you don’t feel like you deserve it—you do.
You might have grown up thinking that it’s “bad” or “selfish” to put so much focus on yourself. Many of us are shamed into becoming perfect selfless saints and devoting our whole lives to other people. But I believe life is not worth living without any pleasure.
Let go of any of your preconceived notions about pleasure, and begin living a life that is filled with beautiful pleasant things and activities. It’s worth it, even if you can only give it a few minutes each day. Five minutes is better than none. Go on a walk during your lunch break and listen to your favorite music or a podcast that you like. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi or something else you enjoy.
Feeling more pleasure in your daily life will reflect in your well-being, and it will make you a happier and more pleasant person in return.
3. Become more mindful of your surroundings.
I live in the city and I always see people rushing on the streets. People are going from office to home with their headphones in their ears, without really connecting to anyone or anything around them.
I won’t say I never listen to music when I commute, because sometimes I find that pleasurable, but it’s also important to learn to become a more mindful person. There are so many beautiful and amazing things you can see and experience on a commute to work: The tree branches moving in the wind; the leaves rustling and falling; birds singing.
Becoming more conscious of the beauty that exists in the world really lights up the beauty in your own life. It’s like a domino effect and it really works.
4. Spend quality time with yourself.
Spending time in solitude is just as important as spending time with friends and family. It’s only during solitude that we are able to truly reflect on who we are, what we like and how we feel. As a natural introvert, I love being alone and I spend a huge chunk of my time in solitude.
There are many things you can do to make your solitude even more special. For example, you could read a book or treat yourself to an in-home spa day. If I’m going to spend an evening by myself, I’ll pretend to prepare for a date. I’ll light a deliciously scented candle and shut the blinds. I’ll put some sensual music on (I love chillstep). Then I’ll spend time meditating through movement. I absolutely love feeling the music as it flows smoothly through my body. It’s like a seductive dance and massage combined into one, but you are doing it for the very sake of movement. You are mindful of your body and how it feels. The whole experience is extremely pleasant and euphoric.
There are many ways to experience sensual living in your own life. All of the little things you add to your life can lead to more sensual joy—and overall happiness.
How Does an HSP Cope With All the Suffering in the World?
If you’re not familiar with the term HSP, please see the definition for “Highly Sensitive Person” from Dr. Elaine Aron.
With no simple answer, I’m afraid. I’ve pondered my own answer to this question for several years. The following Meditation of Hope and Love came to me during one of my own meditations a few years ago. I use it often…and lately, that means almost daily!
A Meditation of Hope and Love
Find a meditation time – at least 30 minutes, or longer, if possible. You know the criteria – quiet, uninterrupted time and space, preferably your own special place that may have candles or a special feeling of comfort and security for you.
Sit or lie down in a very comfortable position. (I prefer lying, with something light and soft to cover me.)
- Begin slow, deep breathing, focusing on blowing all your breath out – as if blowing out a candle.
- Breathe in deeply, through your nose, to a count of 8 or 10. Hold for a count of four.
- Breathe out, again as if blowing out a candle, to a count of ten.
You want to create a very deep cleansing breath. Notice: You might begin yawning, or drifting off to sleep. Go with whatever feels best for you. There is no ‘doing it wrong’ here. Just keep practicing until eventually you can complete the whole meditation. Now here comes the harder, yet important part.
Begin to allow your mind to go ahead and focus on all the things you have been concerned or worrying about. Like many of you, I have been close to tears each day as I hear about all the suffering in the world.
Lovingly ask each individual concern to patiently wait in line — assuring them they will all have a chance to be heard. In your relaxed state, begin to see each entity forming a line, waiting patiently. As they come up to be heard, assign them a name like Robin Williams, Gaza/Palenstine conflict, Nigerian girls or maybe for you it might be lost job, finances, or whatever else evolves as an appropriate and loving way to remember and honor your concerns.
As an HSP, these kinds of images tend to burrow deep into my inner world and I can begin to feel burdened, lethargic, and sometimes hopeless. Cognitively, I know there is really nothing I can (concretely) do about these tragedies, yet my yearnings for a better world keep my mind occupied.
Now comes the next step in your meditation.