It's the Simple Pleasures That Make Life Worth Living

My dogs find happiness in the simplest things. They want to eat, sleep, bark at squirrels, get belly scratches, and chase each other around the house. This is Heaven to them.

Meanwhile, I have a computer, a smartphone, a tablet, and a TV. They all have streaming services, video-sharing websites, and Internet radio apps. I have literally millions of choices for my viewing and listening pleasure. And I go to work every day to pay for all these entertainment choices.

Which means my dogs are better at happiness than I am. They understand what makes them happy, and they are content with the simple things in life. They don't need electronics or complicated entertainment choices to be happy.

Not that I blame them. I'd love to just eat, sleep, and yell at squirrels. And I do love a good belly scratch, but my wife told me to quit chasing her around the house.

Actually, I get the most pleasure from reading a book in a small coffee shop, hearing one of my favorite songs, or just watching a baseball game.

What are your simple pleasures in life? For some, it may be a special dessert. Or a home-cooked meal. Or taking a short nap on the couch.

A recent survey commissioned by Small Luxury Hotels of the World surveyed 2,000 Americans about their simple pleasures, and they came up with a list of the top 50 simple pleasures in life. Some of them were absolutely spot on, and some of them were made-up lies. (See below for the complete list.)

For example, some of our pleasures include gossiping and catching up with friends (#48), having coffee in bed (#39), or people watching (#40).

Meanwhile, watching people in bed is more than a little creepy, so it didn't make the list.

But 63 percent of people don't believe we experience enough simple pleasures. Nearly 40 percent of the people surveyed said their job gets in the way, while the same amount said being a parent leaves them with less time to enjoy simple pleasures.

But then enough of them felt guilty and said, "Oh, but I love getting snuggles from my children," and then rolled their eyes, which puts that at number 33.

The survey said the average person only gets eight moments of pleasure each week — that works out to one a day and two on Sundays because you skipped church and slept in (#19).

But maybe eight per week is enough. If we tried to get five or six hits a day, not only would those things stop being pleasurable, we would wear ourselves out trying to have it all, which would make it all un-pleasurable.

Economists use the term "utils" to refer to a unit of measurement of the utility of happiness, satisfaction, or benefit we get from a good or service.

In other words, eating a scoop of ice cream might give you ten utils of happiness, but two scoops would give you 15 utils. But having three scoops might only give you 12 utils which, economists say, means you actually get less pleasure from three scoops of ice cream than two.

Of course, economists are a rather humorless, dour lot who don't appreciate good ice cream and say their favorite flavor is vanilla.

This theory also says that as you experience more and more pleasurable activities, your happiness would decrease with each new instance until the things that normally bring you joy no longer make you happy.

I don't subscribe to this theory, though, because it implies there is such a thing as "too much bacon," which, as we all know, is not a real thing. It's just a scary story health nuts tell to frighten grown men.

Speaking of ruining fun for other people, more than a fifth of those surveyed said they enjoyed exercise as one of their simple pleasures of life, ranking it as 5th on the list.

The first four included listening to your favorite songs, a nice dinner, watching your favorite movie, and finishing a really good book. Those are all much more believable than someone who says, "I get pleasure from exercise."

I understand people exercise with alarming regularity, but you only have to see the faces of runners to know they are not experiencing pleasure. That is not a look of enjoyment and happiness. At best, it's a look of pleading for relief from this torture to end before they die right there.

Of course, I may be projecting a little. I get plenty of pleasure from watching people exercise from the comfort of my car.

I get another thrill from waving a double-scoop ice cream cone at them.

That means I get two real pleasures to their made-up one, which means I'm winning.

And that gives me a third simple pleasure in life.

The Top 50 Simple Pleasures in Life

  1. Listening to your favorite songs
  2. A nice dinner
  3. Watching your favorite movie
  4. Finishing a really good book
  5. Doing exercise
  6. Spotting a species of bird you’ve never seen before
  7. Seeing flowers and trees blossom
  8. Wearing an outfit that makes you feel good
  9. Home cooking
  10. A match on Hinge (or other dating site) with someone you’re attracted to
  11. Stunning views
  12. Going to the beach
  13. Not having to set the alarm at the weekend or on a day off
  14. Getting a delivery in the mail
  15. Dining out
  16. Finding money you had forgotten about
  17. Laughing out loud at a film
  18. Having dinner made for you
  19. Staying in bed on a Sunday morning
  20. Making someone smile or laugh
  21. Sound of rain on the window
  22. Having a picnic
  23. Hearing the wind blow through the trees
  24. Being somewhere new
  25. Sleeping in a freshly made bed
  26. Receiving a compliment from a stranger
  27. Swimming outside
  28. Discovering new food
  29. Feeling of sun on your face
  30. Playing sport with friends or family
  31. Waking up to sun
  32. Donating to charity
  33. Getting a cuddle from your children
  34. Meeting new people
  35. Buying fresh local food produce
  36. Hearing nothing but birds tweeting
  37. Payday
  38. Cake
  39. Having a coffee/tea in bed
  40. People watching
  41. Putting your out of office on as you head off on a vacation
  42. Smell of toast in the morning
  43. Spontaneous outings
  44. Long walks
  45. Playing a musical instrument
  46. Sleeping in a big incredibly comfy bed
  47. Wearing a new pair of socks for the first time
  48. Having a gossip or catchup with friends
  49. Being in the countryside
  50. Seeing a butterfly

Photo credit: Free-Photos (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.