By Sara Avant Stover
Summer is the season of expansion, pleasure, adventure, and delight. To help us fully participate in its gifts, let’s explore some things that can both help and hinder that.
First, it’s important to remember that you alone are responsible for your happiness. You can’t count on a relationship, a new job, or a great pair of shoes to supply it.
Sure, those things make everything feel rosy for a while, but I’m talking about real, deep-down, heart-felt bliss, when you know that all is well with the world. Living from that place takes a willingness to find it within you.
Is your longing to be truly happy strong enough that you’re willing to regularly step away from your job, your computer, and your phone? To engage in things that let you live in the present moment and bring you innocent joy and pleasure?
Your life is not going to slow down. People are always going to want something from you.
If you’re not doing something every day that brings you total bliss, you need to ask yourself, “Why not?”
Denying yourself delight will lead you down a path of isolation, blame, and an aching neediness as you look for others to fulfill you. Permitting yourself to partake in pleasure is the most important factor in your mental and physical health.
You can’t be truly healthy or happy without pleasure. It’s the catalyst for a series of biochemical reactions in your brain and body — caused primarily by the release of the love hormone, oxytocin — that bring radiance, fluidity, positivity, and an underlying sense of well-being.
The ironic thing is that at a certain level we are all afraid to feel blissful. This state involves deep feelings and sensations, which are sometimes as unbearable as pain and suffering.
On top of that, we have few role models in the world who revel in their beauty, their bodies, and the ecstasy of being alive. The summer, in her unabashed lushness, can serve as your role model. A rose doesn’t keep herself from unfurling because she’s afraid her scent will be too overbearing or intoxicating or that her petals will be too soft and ostentatious.
Ask yourself, “What’s holding me back from making pleasure a priority in my life? Am I afraid to feel really good and to let everyone see me this way?”
Brainstorm concrete ways that you can bring more simple pleasures into your days this summer. What really makes you come alive? What did you love to do as a young girl at this time of year? Come up with at least twenty to thirty ideas — it doesn’t matter how simple (or zany) they are!
I’ll include a few to get you started:
● Paint your nails bright red
● Ride a horse
● Buy some kids’ sidewalk chalk, and write inspiring quotes and draw big hearts on the sidewalk
● Get naked: go skinny-dipping, take a moon bath, or forgo your PJs when you sleep
● Turn on your sprinkler and run through it
● Get a chair massage for ten minutes at the farmers’ market. This summer, using nature as your teacher, find the courage to bring more pleasure into your world
Join Sarah at DMC this fall!
About Sara Avant Stover
Sara Avant Stover is a pioneering teacher of feminine spirituality for over twenty years, a bestselling author, and a Certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) Practitioner. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and Summa cum Laude from Columbia University’s all-women’s Barnard College, she had a cancer scare, moved to Thailand, and embarked on a decade-long healing and spiritual odyssey throughout Asia. Since then, she’s gone on to uplift tens of thousands of women worldwide. She specializes in supporting women as they navigate challenging transitions, helping them to heal what feels unhealable and live with greater peace and fulfillment. Sara has been featured in Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post, Newsweek, Natural Health, and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. She lives in Boulder, CO and online at SaraAvantStover.com.