Micropleasures: Delicious small meditations

Micropleasures are small experiences of pleasure that last less than a minute. They are short meditations that explore, create and cultivate positive and pleasant thoughts and feelings in everyday life. Regular training in micropleasures helps us create a personal culture of satisfaction.

Micropleasures belong to the meditation path called Nurture Positive in the Unified Mindfulness-system. Micropleasures are a type of micropractice, and like all micropractices, they train mindfulness skills throughout the day. Micropractices are short mindfulness practices, lasting less than ten minutes, often just a minute or less.

However, micropleasures are different from usual mindfulness meditation, where we do not try to change anything in our experience. Instead, in Nurture Positive micropleasures, we actively focus on positive sensory experiences, to change for the better how we relate to the world.

A micropleasure has three steps:

  1. Take a break from what you are doing
  2. Choose a specific micropleasure
  3. Practice and enjoy the micropleasure and maybe share it with someone.

There are three ways to practice a micropleasure.

  1. The simplest is just to enjoy it.
  2. We can put the pleasure and experience in the foreground of consciousness, while in the background, we train in concentration, equanimity, and sensory clarity.
  3. We can practice the micropleasure as an explicit meditation, with as much concentration, equanimity, and sensory clarity as we can muster.

In the latter two, pleasure becomes a tool for training mindfulness.

How to identify and choose micropleasures

In his book The Endorphin Effect, Harold Bloom uses the word “strawberries’’ for experiences that evoke pleasure. That’s exactly what we are looking for in our life to use as micropleasures.

You might want to make lists of such strawberries by asking questions like:

Your own strawberries

Below are some suggestions for strawberries, taken from Bloom, the cognitive scientist John Vervaeke, and the couples therapist Peter Fraenkel, as well as some of my own:

We can practice micropleasures together with a partner, and it creates what Fraenkel calls an arc of connection. In fact, he recommends that all couples practice micropleasures together at least three times daily to promote their mutual satisfaction: in the morning, middle of the day, and in the evening. And this goes not least for couples who are struggling or even about to break up.

Good examples of micropleasures for couples are:

And finally, one of the most enjoyable strawberries and micropleasures is just making lists of strawberries itself!

Practicing micropleasures, and seeing a culture of contentment and enjoyment emerge in our daily life, is highly rewarding. It’s difficult to imagine more enjoyable homework.