These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things
The pursuit of pleasure in our modern capitalist society is inextricably linked to money.
The pursuit of pleasure in our modern capitalist society is inextricably linked to money. Our consumerist culture has convinced us that pleasure can only be had from luxurious resort stays, wine country tours, or professional massage sessions.
But there are ways to incorporate pleasure in our lives that don’t impact labor rights, the environment, or our own financial bottom lines. It turns out, pleasure can be had for nothing, and, indeed, may be even more pleasurable by the simple fact that it costs nothing.
YES! Editors share their favorite—and free—pursuits of pleasure, offering you inspiration to find your own.
Walking to the bus stop is good exercise, even when I think I’m not in the mood. I may set out in the rain but then the sun breaks through, or I get out at an unfamiliar bus stop and find a fantastic sunset view. Being prepared for routine and then finding unexpected pleasures makes taking public transportation a small adventure.
One of my passions is reading fiction. I try to set aside an hour each day—usually before I go to sleep—to read a novel or short stories. The demands of everyday life can be overwhelming, and as a journalist I have to do a lot of reading for work and to keep up with current events. Forcing myself to disconnect from all that and dwell in someone else’s world for a bit is both satisfying and relaxing.
I don’t have a garden, but I do have houseplants, and I love repotting plant cuttings for friends. Truly the gift that keeps on giving!
I love to crochet for pleasure! I buy my yarn on the cheap from a local nonprofit thrift store in Pasadena, California, called Remainders that resells artists’ overstock supplies. I learn crochet designs from a free YouTube channel, Crochet with Clare. I sell my hats at local craft fairs and use the proceeds to buy more yarn. I like to think of it as financially sustainable art therapy.
I started a love affair with seasonal flowers and trees after moving to the Pacific Northwest. It began during the pandemic: I’d walk around my neighborhood and notice that one week the daffodils were blooming, while the next cherry blossoms had exploded, followed by magnolias. I find calm and balance as I focus on the fragrance, the texture, and the colors surrounding me.
I keep a guitar near my (work-from-home) desk. I’ve played the instrument for decades, but outside of any organized band or rehearsal session, I get a little boost of pleasure just running my fingers up and down the neck, whether I’m playing scales, noodling aimlessly, or figuring out a song that got stuck in my head. Even during the workday, a five-minute fingerboard break is enough to reset my mood and renew my focus.
I like spending time in communal spaces—what remains of “the commons.” This includes my public library and public parks, where I can take a walk, eat meals, or meet friends.
I often need to disconnect from the commercial world, so I make a habit of turning off all notifications and abstaining from social media and cable programming. Then, I reconnect to the natural world, taking long walks or enjoying free public parks and garden spaces. I take the time to look at the sky, feel the breeze, and listen to and watch birds and other critters.
Toddler time: Taking my kiddo to the park, holding her hand as she practices her “balance beam” skills on retaining walls, and catching her at the bottom of the big-kid slide bring me such joy. Silly smiles and belly laughs from a small person elicit some of the most uncomplicated, pure pleasure I’ve experienced.
Rather than spending money on trendy “immersive” art exhibits that are all the rage these days, a lot of fine art can be enjoyed for free. Most art museums have “free days” each month, allowing families to enjoy art for free. As a bonus, those receiving government SNAP benefits can also enjoy low-cost or free museum entrance tickets via Museums4All.org.