Chapter 12. Simple Pleasures: The Optimist's Wild Card

"Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves?"

Friedrich Nietzsche

While meditating in the chapel at the La Casa de Maria Retreat Center in Santa Barbara, California, my eyes caught a Zen saying on the wall: "After ecstasy—the laundry." I laughed out loud. There was wisdom in those few words, but I wasn't sure what it was. Was it that we appreciate the joy of ecstasy but somehow forget the hard work involved in making it possible? Was it that there is as much joy in doing laundry as in a mountaintop experience? Maybe it wasn't even meant as wisdom. Could it be that it was some Zen master's to-do-list? I came to realize that, for me, there can be as much personal satisfaction in some simple activities and chores as there is in many grand and expensive experiences. Both are part of life. When asked why I don't pay someone else to do my gardening, I have a simple answer: My gardening gives me satisfaction. Why would I pay someone to take over an activity that I enjoy doing?

"Enjoy pleasures, but let them be your own, and then you will taste them."

Lord Chesterton

Life deals you a number of wild cards that, when played well, can give you an optimism advantage. With this chapter's wild card, there is another benefit; you are entitled to designate what is wild. After all, the pastimes in which you find simple pleasure aren't necessarily the same for others. The trick is finding what it is in your world that can transform ...

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