10 off-beat ways to indulge yourself

Self-indulgence is not a sign of the selfish but a sign of self-love. Here are 10 off-beat ways [and inexpensive ways] to indulge your senses and your soul

Man standing alone on the top of the mountain

We are all on this never-ending quest of creating the perfect job, the perfect home…the perfect life, hurtling into a whirlpool of endless activity. In the rush, time just whizzes past in a blur till we settle down under the covers, comatose, ready to battle yet another day. And while we are on this quest, moments are slowly slipping away, leaving little opportunity to savour the most important ingredient of life’s recipe—the self. Are we even aware of ‘who’ is living this life?

How about setting out a time every day to indulge the ‘self’? Not the regular indulge-fests of chocolates, shopping or a day at the spa; though they are bonafide indulge choices too.

Ground rules

Let’s lay down a few rules to make this journey full of unbridled possibilities.

  1. Schedule an appointment: Schedule an official appointment with your self and be there on time. Request the people in your life to respect the value of this time.
  2. Peek out of your comfort zone: If it’s comfortable, it’s boring. So peek out of your safe house now and then to choose a not so trodden path.
  3. The Aha! moment: Enjoying yourself is the core premise. If it doesn’t make you feel happy, what’s the point?

Now, here’s how you can indulge

1. Create something…anything

Every individual is bestowed with a creative bug. To deny its existence is to deny yourself a big chunk of life. Whether it’s pottery, painting, gardening, or doodling— the possibilities are immense. Make a list of top three things you always wanted to create and then take the plunge. The intention is to create something that carries your own singular expression. You will notice that the moment you decide to give of yourself, your creative spark gets ignited. And the more you give, the more you receive.

2. Go on a photography expedition

Arm yourself with a camera and venture out. But remember, the camera is merely a tool to make you linger long enough to watch the little moments of beauty that you miss by simply passing by. Click away at things that make you smile, ponder, or takes your breath away. Suddenly that tiny purple flower leaning jauntily against the coarse brown boundary wall creates a whole new colour palette. If you keep at it, the world around will start unravelling its wonders for you, one at a time.

3. Try role play

Ever played the secret spy? Rope in your partner or friend for an evening of pretence and intrigue. Pick a role; the quirkier the better. Give a free rein to your imagination. For example, you can be the rogue spy while your partner can be the agent of another country who is trading you information. Plan to have a secret rendezvous at a local bar and make sure to dress the part. The idea is to meet as total strangers and thicken the plot as you go along. Whoever stops pretending first, loses. Try it and you will be amazed at your creativity. And it might just give a whole new spin to your relationship.

4. Get an adrenaline rush

When was the last time you felt totally out of breath and exhilarated? Even if you think you have it all figured out, screaming like a lunatic on a roller coaster gives a new outlook on things—you suddenly realise the fragility and urgency of life. Fear has the potential to make you experience the present moment. So do something that you have always secretly wanted to but are scared to attempt. In the throes of that fear, there is that one moment in which your mind goes numb and all the gizmos of the ego—your position in society, work tensions, issues with your spouse, mortgage payments—simply fall off, leaving you pure and unfettered to taste life in all its naked intensity.

5. Do a memory march

Take a cheerful voyage down the memory lane and think of all the good things your friends have done for you. Then choose five friends whose special gestures made you happy and express your gratitude to them. Yes, touching lives [and feeling enriched as a result] is that simple.

6. Be absolute, do nothing

Sit quietly in one place and do nothing—not even think. Of course, it’s not easy. We all seem to feel a certain level of reassurance by keeping our minds occupied at all times. Indeed, for many, doing nothing and being completely with one’s self is downright terrifying. Still, take a chair and sit quietly and focus on your breath. Start with five minutes. Just be. Even if thoughts come, don’t fight them. Simply bring back your focus to your breath. Gradually expand the time to 15 minutes. Once you master this process, you will begin to feel more aware and relaxed.

7. Build a ‘create corner’

We have dedicated a space to everything in our homes—except to ourselves. Even our washing machine has its own corner to blithely shudder away in solitude. How about finding a corner or space in your home and dedicating it to yourself—for doing what you like? Creating a distinct physical space to pursue our interest or hobbies creates a mirror of this space within us. As you assemble this space and maintain its sanctity, you will simultaneously construct a dedicated mind space. Place your favourite souvenir, a good book or aromatic candles in the space to give it a more sacred feel.

8. Reserve a quiet period

Wake up 30 minutes early, make yourself a cup of green tea and surf the web or read some poetry in complete silence. Or go on a glorious morning walk. Or visit your favourite coffee shop every Sunday and write a journal while biting into your favourite cookie. Do it before the rest of the inmates in your life wake up. Follow it like a Japanese ritual.

9. Volunteer

Everyone wants to be charitable with money but few of us actually give our time to others. Giving your time for a cause you believe in is mighty fulfilling. So go ahead and sign up as a volunteer—you’ll discover fresh new perspectives. It could be teaching dance to street kids or computer skills to underprivileged women. Give a little of your time and presence—what you’ll get in return will be a lot more.

You may also like: It’s that simple!

10. Box of Joy

Stash a small box of keepsakes on your desk at work—it’s your very own ‘box of joy’. Put in it anything that reminds you of a treasured experience. Anything nostalgic will do—your child’s first pair of booties, your monogrammed cricket ball, first anniversary gift or even the worn-out movie ticket of your first date. You can dip into this box whenever you require an emotional surge—just like that box of raisins gives you the much-needed energy kick when you’re feeling weary and down.

Finally, remember that every moment carries within itself a seed of indulgence. So don’t relegate your indulgence to a weekend slot. Even your morning tea can be a perfect ritual for indulgence. Watch the moment as you savour the bittersweet aroma, its smoothness as you swirl it in your mouth, the sigh of satisfaction as you gulp a mouthful. Feel the hot trail of the liquid as it goes down your throat and experience the comforting warmth as it radiates up to the end of your toes. This way, linger on one activity each day. Come alive to the process. Life will become one beautiful indulgence.

A version of this was first published in the June 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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