Kat spent two weeks at the Welcomed Consensus retreat center in the wild and scenic mountains of Northern of California. She came to learn, grow and discover new ideas wanting to find happiness in her life. The following is an account of the concepts and viewpoints that resonated with her and have made a significant impact on her daily experiences since her stay. Read how she cultivates happiness on her terms by adopting a pleasure-oriented mindset.
However, one of the things I was reminded of during my stay at A Madrone Ranch is the power of our own ability to find happiness in our own daily lives, just through creating a few simple habits. While staying at the ranch, I became more aware of the emphasis our society places on production. I realized that many people are focused on their achievements, and I have found myself absorbed in my productivity as well.
After graduating from college, I had big dreams of finding a job where I would be making the world a better place. I accepted a teaching position at a non-profit. I had landed my dream job, but once I started, I enjoyed the work a lot less than I was expecting. I had set these big expectations and goals for myself, and when I wasn’t able to directly witness the results from my time and effort (which is what happens when you are an educator), I got frustrated and burnt out. I ended up quitting.
What I came to realize while at A Madrone is that I actually would have been more productive if I placed more value on finding pleasure in the day-to-day work. I became so focused on reaching goals, I forgot how to enjoy spending time with my students and teaching them about the things that I love. I was constantly being asked to report progress on goals, numbers, outcomes, and more by the organization, which made it challenging to enjoy the present. In a society that is production-oriented, I became so focused on the progress that I forgot to enjoy the journey. And in the end, I achieved less and had less fun doing it.
Since realizing I wanted to build habits to appreciate the world around me, and live more fully in the present moment, I realized this meant I needed to shift to a more pleasure-oriented mindset.
At A Madrone, I was given the chance to practice this, and have maintained this mindset since leaving, which has made me significantly happier. Living a pleasure-oriented life means living deliberately, and steering my mind and life in the direction that will result in more fun.
A pleasure-oriented mindset means becoming more aware of all of your senses so that you have the power to process them as painful or pleasurable. Some experiences that I initially interpreted as painful, such as doing chores or exercising, I have realized can be pleasurable, as long as I am the one ultimately in control of the experience. Even when I am at work, when I become aware of my senses, I find that there can be a lot to appreciate.
Another key aspect of this mindset is focusing on the good; becoming aware of pleasure in each day and each moment. Keeping a gratitude list is a great way to do this, and it has been especially important for me to focus on the specific details of each moment that I am grateful for. When I have something to look forward to, I become aware of the feeling of anticipation that I get, and I have come to appreciate it; instead of wishing time to move by faster.
One of the most important lessons I learned at A Madrone is that pleasure is an honorable goal. Looking forward in my own life, I have realized that I will actually make it farther in my endeavors if I am able to enjoy the growth process.