Surprising Things You Enjoy
June 25, 2017 9:36 AM   Subscribe

I just put on a pot of green beans, which I will be eating soon with some potatoes and olive oil on pasta. This will be breakfast. As it turns out, I much prefer non-breakfast food for breakfast. It only recently occurred to me that there's no actual requirement to eat oatmeal (or whatever) in the morning hours. I did not expect to find fun in eating pasta in the morning but I do. In what unexpected areas, no matter how small, have you discovered some amount of pleasure or joy?

Here's another example: Yesterday I went to a Giants game in San Francisco, my first at the downtown stadium and only the second ballgame in my life because I don't care about sports. But it was surprisingly fun to spend several hours in that particular stadium on a beautiful day with someone whose company I enjoy. I expected to be bored or restless but I wasn't. I don't care about baseball but attending a game can be fun regardless of the game itself. (I had no idea!) Finally, I haven't stuck to regular meditation. But I have discovered that after I wake, staying in bed for 10 or 15 minutes with my eyes closed while focusing on outside sounds (birds, people, traffic) is a much more pleasant and luxurious way of starting my day than immediately hopping out of bed, checking my email, etc. Maybe it's a form of meditation; maybe it's not. Either way, it's a surprising improvement to my day. Hive mind: What small, surprising (to you) things do you find pleasing?
posted by Bella Donna to Health & Fitness (42 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
When I'm traveling alone, I actually really enjoy airplane delays? Like, it's this magical gift of a few hours where you get to read/dick around on the computer/get a beer at the airport bar (and I LOVE airport bars), and no one can get mad at you for being late because, you had no control over the delay, and you can't be expected to do anything "productive" because the airport wifi costs money and there's nowhere to charge your phone if it dies, so you've gotta preserve the battery. Plus a lot of airports (O'Hare!) are like cities unto themselves, and exploring them can be really delightful. (Did you know that there is a garden at O'Hare? Or a yoga room? I wouldn't either, except for a six-hour weather delay last summer.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 9:42 AM on June 25, 2017 [38 favorites]

Textured soap. I like to buy/use artisanal bar soap, which is already a small pleasure, and if they have some sort of textury add-in like lavender blossoms or rosemary it's like a tiny little hand massage (with bonus aromatherapy!) every time you wash your hands. I've been known to sit there lathering up for far longer than is strictly necessary just because it feels so nice.
posted by drlith at 9:43 AM on June 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

[It's a chill Sunday and this is a fairly fun question despite the chatty structure, so I'm gonna let it stand. Talk about the stuff that you're surprised makes you happy, folks.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:02 AM on June 25, 2017 [23 favorites]

I've never been particularly oriented towards beauty and makeup products, so I'm surprised at how much I love getting my monthly (Sephora, but there are tons) sample subscription box. There's always something in there that delights me and feels pampering, whether it's a new type of facial mask, a fun lip gloss color I'd never think to try, etc.
posted by lalex at 10:13 AM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Did you know that there is a garden at O'Hare? Or a yoga room?

I have the same travel feelings. Love delays if it's not making me super late for anything. I always check to see if the airports have chapels, they are always empty and they are nice quiet places to chill in the cacophony of the airport, I love them.

I'm pretty mad at politics lately but I went to a friend's naturalization ceremony (as her +1) on Thursday where 2500 people became new Americans and it was surprisingly moving even in the context of all the larger scale "fuck these guys" stuff that is happening. There's a part where they call off all the countries that people were from, all 120-ish, and the people stood and everyone in the place clapped (and occasionally cheered) and it helped me remember what's good about the place. I dislike politics but I love civics.
posted by jessamyn at 10:21 AM on June 25, 2017 [28 favorites]

I'm always inordinately pleased at how my dry, calloused heels get soft and smooth when I use the foot file. It is the highest ratio of tangible improvement:time, in contrast to just about anything else having to do with body-upkeep except maybe shaving.

Eggs, either scrambled or correctly sunnyside up, have the highest ratio of satisfying deliciousness: time (without gross candy guilt.) Plus a fried egg put on top of pretty much any leftover slop (rice, quinoa, beans, last night's stir fry, whatever) makes it a treat.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:22 AM on June 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

A part of my job is opening packages. (I work in a library, and the packages are incoming items shared between libraries in the consortium we belong to.) I get ridiculously excited every single time I unpacked our cargo shipment. Even though the vast majority of the items are for our library patrons, it's a great way to find books, DVDs and audios that I might never run across otherwise. I keep a notepad to jot titles to borrow. Big sigh of happiness!

Plus, my inner 3 year old says PRESENTS!!!!!

Double plus, it's also a great upper body workout.
posted by LaBellaStella at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2017 [23 favorites]

Getting into a car that has been sitting in the sun all closed up for a while. The enveloping warmth is so soothing and relaxing at least until I start sweating.
posted by DrGail at 10:32 AM on June 25, 2017 [11 favorites]

Accidentally waking up super early, and then falling asleep again as the sun rises.
posted by moonmilk at 10:34 AM on June 25, 2017 [9 favorites]

I adore the feel of freshly washed cotton sheets when I get into bed--especially if I'm really tired. Heavenly! So much payoff for relatively little effort.
posted by bookmammal at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2017 [10 favorites]

I have never been 'girly' at all, but I recently tried painting my fingernails in an effort to stop biting them. I decided I didn't like the effort, or the feel of long nails, but I do keep one nail-- my left thumbnail-- somewhat long, and painted with clear rainbow-glitter polish. And it gives me a silly sense of happiness, every time I see it, twinkling on the steering wheel or when I use that slightly longer nail to open an envelope or a can. It's so subtle no one has noticed it, but -I- notice it, and I like it. :)
posted by The otter lady at 10:45 AM on June 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

We have a small blue plate and 4 blue mugs that I bought at Goodwill because I loved their color and every single time I use one of them it makes me surprisingly happy. You'd think nothing could beat drinking cold milk after eating warm chocolate chip cookies, but it turns out it's at least twice as enjoyable if you pour that white milk into a mug that's the perfect shade of blue.

You know how it feels when you're coming down with a mild fever-inducing virus - tired, a little achy, and your skin is extra-sensitive? I kind of enjoy that feeling if there's nothing big I have to do and I can just take it easy. It makes it extra pleasant to just sit at the computer browsing the web or snuggle into a warm bed to read or nap.
posted by Redstart at 10:52 AM on June 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

I like fried eggs, put on top of some other food, like toast, or toast and tomatoes. But, I always fry my eggs in olive oil, with a sliced clove of garlic, well and some dill.
posted by Oyéah at 10:57 AM on June 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

I didn't used to have a yard, but now I do and I love everything about the grass. My favorite thing to do is to stand barefooted in the grass at night. It's soft and cool and kind of tickley, and it's the perfect stress reliever (and sore foot reliever!) after a long day at work. And if you've recently cut it, it smells amazing.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:01 AM on June 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

When it's really hot in the middle of summer I love when it gets cold enough at night to need to put on a sweatshirt. This usually happens up in the mountains.
When I've been sitting around a fire I love that my hoodie smells like a camp fire for days after.
I love driving a clutch. I'm amazed that my body knows just how to run through that little flurry of steps to start or change gears.
I love that my dogs feet smelled like fritos (most, if not all dog's do).
It makes me happy to see a new furled leaf on one of my plants or that first little sprout with the weird leaves that breaks through the ground when you've planted seeds.
I love this question!
posted by BoscosMom at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Redstart, I also have a mug and plates in the perfect shade of blue, dark and speckled, with brown around the edges. I'm going to go pour myself a mug of milk now!
posted by lharmon at 12:30 PM on June 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like paying my rent by check each month - for one thing, because it reminds me that I have enough money to do so and that feels very satisfying. I pay everything else via automatic bill pay - but admit I love the old-fashioned ritual of writing out the check and sticking it in an envelope. Brings me back to when I was 14 and my mother taught me how to do it, and it felt so very grown up.
posted by egeanin at 12:43 PM on June 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Everyone tells you when you have a kid that it's important to have regular date nights to reconnect w your partner. Well I bite my thumb at date nights for we've recently discovered DAY DATES - having the sitter come around 11a on a Saturday, going for a decadent and leisurely and boozy lunch followed by fancy ice cream and then a few hours browsing in a bookstore or park stroll or other normal adult sunlight hour things instead of wondering if my kid is sleeping ok and falling asleep in the movie theater at 10pm and hoping late night transit delays don't mean extra sitter fees. Day dates!! Life changing!
posted by sestaaak at 12:48 PM on June 25, 2017 [31 favorites]

Asian skin care. I'd never been much for futzing with skincare, moisturiser & sunblock was about it . But I've slowly found myself getting into a rather intensive 10 step skin care routine every night and I love it. It takes me about 15 minutes of quite meditative me time as I pamper myself. It's a lovely relaxing ritual that puts me in a lovely headspace to climb into bed. It's also made me look about 10 years younger so that's nice too.

Also Fiestaware. I have slowly replaced my Walmart plates & bowls with lovely bright colored Fiestaware and I still get a thrill every time I get a plate or mug out.
posted by wwax at 12:51 PM on June 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I often sit in my truck, outside my home, and surf. My family doesn't know I'm home yet. I can connect to WiFi and it's so peaceful.

I always love the end of fun events...the goodbyes and let's keep in touch...that lingering warmth and companionship, the smiles and laughs. I don't how to describe that... We recently went to a U2 concert.. 50000 people leaving at the end, all quite peaceful walking along. Basking in the memory of a very awesome night.
posted by Ftsqg at 12:56 PM on June 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've heard people say that they hate the prep work associated with cooking, but I love chopping vegetables. I'll find any excuse to chop stuff up. It's a therapeutic, repetitive activity. I'll even chop stuff up the night before, saying that I'm being efficient, but really I just want to chop stuff up beforehand. I like the way the vegetables look colorful and organized on the cutting board!
posted by aquamvidam at 1:00 PM on June 25, 2017 [10 favorites]

I really like mowing the lawn. We are not the sort to keep it obsessively manicured, so sometimes it gets a little long between mowings. I find it very soothing and satisfying to push the mower slowly and smoothly from one side of our small, square front lawn to the other and turn it from mildly unruly to tidy.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:18 PM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love institutional food. Schools, hospitals, whatever. I know it's crap, I also enjoy good food, but for some reason I love that shitty gravy and mashed potatoes and grade D beef.

When my son was little I enjoyed changing his diapers. It was a problem I could easily fix. I could take a crying baby and make him better while he looked up at me and slowly calmed down and I was the guy doing the calming. Slapping on a clean diaper and carrying him back from the changing table was satisfying. Most things with babies aren't that easy to fix.

I like the smell of my own farts. Just mine though, not yours.

I like doing household chores. Dishes, decluttering, yard work. Like the diaper thing, it's a problem I can fix and there is a clear difference between before and after.
posted by bondcliff at 1:18 PM on June 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh, god yes - driving a stick shift. Driving can be so boring, instead, driving stick involves both sides of your body and being involved with what the engine is doing. I don't mind driving stick in traffic at all. I can't wait to get another car with a manual transmission if I can find one.
posted by jbenben at 2:09 PM on June 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

Nothing-but-peanuts-&-salt peanut butter, thinly sliced ripe bananas between buckwheat crackers. This combines three exquisite textures and tastes. It's truly a replacement for the linzer torte I can no longer eat.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:38 PM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like having a sourdough starter and making sourdough crackers and bread. Lately I started fermenting other things. I like seeing the bubbles start. Then I think, "Its alive." And then I think of Gene Wilder as Dr Frankenstein. And then I'm further amused. Also fermented things are yummy.
posted by songs_about_rainbows at 2:44 PM on June 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Unlike hurdy gurdy girl, I don't think I'll ever really enjoy lawn mowing for its own sake -- but oh my god, I am so delighted with my new electric lawn mower. I bought it last summer, as a last resort before giving up and just hiring someone to mow--my lawn is lumpy and hummocky, I've got some chonic shoulder and back problems, and trying to wrestle my ten-ton gas mower around the lawn was just hell.

I've had disappointing experiences with lithium ion batteries in tools, so I went with a corded model, though apprehensive that I'd find cord management to be a hassle. After a few experiments, though, I found that if I start closest to the plug-in location, coil the extension cord loosely on the ground, and go back and forth alongside the plug-in, rather than towards it and then away from, the cord spools out neatly behind me and stays out of the way and untangled.

And it is so light! and manouverable! and *quiet*! and totally liberates me from exhaust fume stink, and the need to go footling around with a gas can trying to find a place with non-ethanol gas, and wrenching my shoulder yanking on the starter cord, and hunting around the internet trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with the carburetor, and spilling gas on my foot while trying to fill the damn tank. In conclusion, LOVE.
posted by Kat Allison at 3:06 PM on June 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ours is an electric mower too, Kat Allison, and I agree, they're the best! I thought the cord would be a pain but it's not if you use the strategy you described.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:14 PM on June 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I find doing my taxes, by hand, to be strangely satisfying in a mathy-meditative way. But only if it's a set of forms that I've figured out before: the figuring-out part is not fun.
posted by heatherlogan at 3:37 PM on June 25, 2017

Putting away all the clean, freshly washed clothes. I don't much enjoy the act of doing laundry (too much waiting) but i love seeing it all lined up on hangers in the closet, ready for a new week.
posted by janepanic at 4:25 PM on June 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

An experiment I did a few weeks ago: blended a bunch of dried chipotle peppers fairly coarse and mixed them through some raw honey in a jar. This works insanely well on a) pizza crusts and b) hot buttered crumpets. So, that!
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:14 PM on June 25, 2017 [5 favorites]

Throw a dash of salt in the pot. Add a glug of olive oil. Shake in some of that cinnamon that my friend brought back from Sri Lanka. Add some oregano or basil if you have it. Maybe add a shake or two of hot sauce. We are not following anyone's regional cuisine, here. Add some chopped garlic, more than you think you need. And grind in some pepper. Fill the little plastic measuring cup with oatmeal and add it to the pot. The numbers have worn off the little plastic measuring cup, so I don't know how big it is. Fill the little plastic measuring cup with corn, and add it to the pot. And a little plastic measuring cup of peas. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I use frozen corn and peas. Cover everything with water and put it on the stove on really low heat, almost as low as it will go. It will take some time, but once the oatmeal stew comes to a boil, stir it, let it boil again, and then eat. This is usually the high point of my day.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:57 PM on June 25, 2017 [6 favorites]

When we have had plenty of rain so that the ground is soft, I love pulling weeds. I enjoy the tidying up aspect but there is so much more to it. The satisfaction of knowing my plants intimately so that I recognize a desirable volunteer seedling (a viola) from an undesirable seedling ( a violet) There is also just a tactile pleasure in ripping out bindweed or crabgrass as it comes out in long lengths.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:52 PM on June 25, 2017 [7 favorites]

The only household chore that I can say I enjoy is vacuuming. I do it so infrequently that every push gives that satisfying rattle of crap running up the hose and the clean path is so obvious it's very satisfying.
posted by bendy at 9:14 PM on June 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

I really love my watering can and the act of watering my plants with it. It's just a cheap plastic can I got at the variety shop, but it's perfectly balanced, pours with hardly any tipping, has a small spout that fits in between the stems of my philodendron, holds enough water to water all of my plants and no more, and it's a cheerful lavender/magenta color. It makes me happy to use every time.
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 9:23 PM on June 25, 2017 [7 favorites]

I like how sometimes when I'm sleep deprived, I go through the day in an extra friendly, extra lucid, extra carefree state.

I also like when meetings get cancelled. It's one of life's greatest joys.
posted by watrlily at 3:22 AM on June 26, 2017 [9 favorites]

I really like this time of year where I can have my windows open to cool the house, before it's too hot and I need to put the air conditioners in. It's nice to be lying in bed and hearing the rain falling in my neighbor's garden and feeling the breeze from the window.
posted by JDHarper at 11:27 AM on June 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

One more: I freaking love making spreadsheets on Google drive. When I'm overwhelmed and miserable with decision-making stuff or to-do stuff, nothing calms me down like gdocs -> insert table -> making an organized visual representation of the variables. (If I'm not miserable to start, it's even better!)

Also: hand washing. In warm water during the winter, cold water during the summer. Feels so good! Requires a towel, though, even a paper one. Nothing to ruin the pleasure of hand washing like the screaming hurricane wind of a Dyson dryer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:15 PM on June 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have never been athletic at all and have a lot of baggage around athletic endeavors, so I was really, really surprised by how much I like Crossfit.

I recently started buying cut flowers, after a lifetime of seriously not noticing flower bouquets or thinking about them at all, and I'm surprised by how much joy that $5 bouquet brings me throughout the week.

Not surprising because I've always loved this, but the way my skin smells after I've been at the beach.
posted by lunasol at 9:15 PM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sitting in my car with the engine turned off, eating lunch and reading a book. It feels like a safe happy cocoon where I can just be me. There's nowhere else quite like it in my life. Especially nice when it's raining and the world outside is cool and wet, but I am cozy and dry in my car.
posted by beandip at 2:49 PM on June 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love eating a meal by myself at a restaurant. I always bring a book. It feels terribly grown-up to me.
posted by BrashTech at 5:21 PM on June 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

My mother and I, in general, do not get along. I dread most interactions with her, so I was surprised how much I have enjoyed helping her pick out, buy, and then decorate her new condo. Apparently nesting is one thing, at least, that we have in common.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 10:29 AM on June 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

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