Have you heard all the buzz about this brand-new way to bring calm and happiness to your life? It’s called IPP – the Intermittent Pleasure Practice.
Maybe not. I just made it up. But my silly pseudo-science name is based on a real philosophy I have been practicing, and I think I’m on to something.
Like most of us, I don’t have a live-in cook or maid. So, every day I have a number of repetitive, boring, but necessary tasks that take up precious time.
You know what I mean: emptying the dishwasher, planning for dinner, removing clumps of dog hair, sorting the mail, going through emails, washing and folding laundry, and so on. The daily tasks seem endless, and they can make me cranky.
So, lately, I’ve been playing with the idea of intentionally sprinkling in some pleasure throughout the day. You would be amazed at how much credentialing paperwork is necessary when you are a psychotherapist.
I’m a knitter, so when I complete a task that is particularly onerous, I reward myself with a few moments of pleasure.
I take out my simple pattern – for IPP there is no room for frustrating challenging patterns – and I knit a few rows. I sit quietly and luxuriate in the stillness.
My current project is a simple spring shawl that uses bright coral yarn mixed with periwinkle. It’s an ultra-premium silk blend, and it’s even nicer because I found it on the discount shelf of my local knitting store.
The vibrant colors make me believe that spring is coming, even though here in Syracuse we are still experiencing wind chills. If my dogs sit beside me, it intensifies the pleasure of being cozy and quiet. If I’m lucky, there’s still a bit of coffee left in my mug.
I also like the fact that knitting has a long history of being a woman’s art. It gets me thinking about all the women who came before me, their needles clicking away.
I feel like I’m part of a special legacy. I like to think about their lives, and what they knit. Did they enjoy it as much as I do, or was it more of a necessity to create warm clothes?
As I work on my project, my thoughts drift around pleasantly. I’m not trying to remember anything or make a mental shopping list. I’m not trying to use my brain. I’m just working with my pretty yarn. There’s a lovely rhythm to knitting that feels hypnotic.
It’s interesting and surprising to me how many creative ideas bubble to the surface. Ideas of guests for my podcast emerge who would not be my typical guests. I get some clarity around what I want to write about, and what I want to create. It’s effortless. It feels light. More like play.
IPP, the modern version of the stick and the carrot, is an acknowledgement that life can be relentless, and it’s up to me to find ways to counterbalance the things that drain me.
And if I don’t do this thoughtfully, I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feeds. Although that scratches a certain itch, it doesn’t feel deeply pleasurable. It isn’t beautiful, or tactile. I don’t get a sense of peace. In fact, I think it leaves me more restless.
I wasn’t surprised when I came upon research that demonstrated how handcrafts are very good for our brains and help combat depression and anxiety. But I know that knitting is not for everyone.
Sometimes it’s not even for me when the finished product looks like something a kid made in summer camp and tossed aside. So, you must find your own version of knitting. Your own version of IPP. I think you’ll find it’s worth all the buzz.
How do you find ways to relax and bring calm and happiness to your life? Are you a knitter or do you enjoy other relaxing handicrafts? Please share your IPP in the comments below.
Tags Reducing Stress