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28 February 2017 @ 08:51 pm
Happiness Journal 2: Pleasure  
Continuing my ENG 101 blog ...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017, 9:45 AM

Since we're moving on to Epicurus, I thought I'd continue my "happy moments" blogging but focus on pleasure.

  • Waking up early and being able to lie in a warm, cosy bed for a while before I had to get up.

  • Taste of bread and butter at breakfast. I enjoyed the rest of the breakfast too, but for some reason I really appreciated the bread (maybe because I don't eat a lot of bread these days).


Continuing with feelings of pleasure ...
Friday, 24 February 2017, 11:53 AM

I rediscovered Treasure by the Cocteau Twins - I used to love this album back in the 1980s, lost my tape of it, then stumbled upon it on Spotify. I love the sensuous textures of the music; The Cocteau Twins are almost physically pleasant to listen to, as opposed to music I enjoy more intellectually (e.g., Bach) or because of the energy of the feelings, regardless of whether those feelings are pleasant (e.g., heavy metal).

Continuing to focus on pleasure ...
Friday, 24 February 2017, 8:45 PM

Qigong (Chinese breathing exercise) was very pleasant today. It nearly always feels good - you get high on oxygen - but there some extra factors this time.

Bearing in mind my earlier experience with the Cocteau Twins, I paid attention to the texture of the music that I normally play in the background. It's a loop of hang drum music - very repetitive but a lovely feel. The qigong series I'm working on at the moment is wuxing ziran, "the play of the five animals", and there's one animal I particularly enjoy, the dragon, because it involves running in a tight circle with one arm held out, like a kind of crazy sema. This reminded me of the play-theorist Roger Caillois' idea of ilinx, the pleasure we get from disorientation, like whirling, roller coasters or bungee jumping.

Potatoes
Sunday, 26 February 2017, 2:52 PM

Last night we baked fish in an oven bag (very good idea BTW) and threw in a few potatoes. Although the fish was very tasty, I found I got even more pleasure from the potatoes. I suppose some of this may be like my enjoyment of bread earlier - I'm not eating a lot of carbohydrate these days so I really enjoy it when I do. This ties in with the practices of both Epicurus (who would sometimes go hungry so as to appreciate the pleasure of eating more) and Seneca (who while being ridiculously rich, would sometimes spend a month eating like a beggar). Another factor might be childhood memories. We often used to go to my grandparents at the weekends, and my grandmother would cook a traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef or chicken, which always had potatoes roasted in the oven in the fat of whatever beast was in there with it. (Apologies to vegetarians reading this.)

A most pleasant day
Monday, 27 February 2017, 9:32 AM

Lots of pleasant moments yesterday, starting with an excellent breakfast (no breakfast beats a Turkish breakfast). This time I was particularly impressed by the taste of the olives (from Hatay). Then off to my taijiquan (t'ai chi) class, which was very enjoyable. Again we concentrated on wuxing ziran ("play of the five animals" - see previous post). I worked up a good sweat, which was pleasant in an odd kind of way. I don't sweat much normally, even at the gym, but breathing exercises do it for some reason (especially the crane exercise, which appropriately corresponds to the element fire in Chinese metaphysics).

Back home for lunch and a nap (which is always pleasant) then a few hours indulging in my new favourite pastime: reading a book in bed. I noticed that although I read a lot on the computer , I never fully relax when I'm doing it. Maybe it's the physical conditions of reading at a desk on a computer, or maybe it's the fact that I associate the computer so much with work, so even when I'm reading purely for pleasure there's always a feeling I should be doing something else, the urge to check my mail etc. Reading a physical book in a place where I never work (bed) sets up a barrier between reading for work and reading for pleasure. (Ironically, the book I'm getting so much pleasure from at the moment, Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, is something I originally picked up for work.)

In the evening, one of my favourite foods, mince and eggs (kıymalı yumurta), followed by Survivor.