Unexpected result of end of life wishes: Celebrating small pleasures

Celebrating small pleasures

Little did I imagine, when I embarked on my journey to understand end of life medical interventions, that I’d have to think hard about what made me happy in life.

Off the top of my head, my children (although on some days, that’s debatable) husband (same caveat), my work (same caveat)

Big Happy and Little Happy

These are large happinesses – that take into account ups and downs. Thinking further, and longer and harder – although often allowing myself to simply relax and let the small pleasures drift into my consciousness – I came up with “What Makes Up a Good Day”

To do this, I also had to be aware of when pleasure washed over me, or soothed me, or caused my shoulders to go down to where they belong from up around my ears.

Self-Reflection is not for sissies

This was harder than I expected, because – like many (most?) of us – I’m not trained to be self-reflective or analytical (either and both can be downright scary). But, having put forward this mission to myself, I accepted those terms.

And here’s what I found is the make-up of a “Good Day” for me. This assumes enough sleep and enough to eat.

  • Hugs
  • Laughter
  • Exercise
  • Stimulating conversation
  • Feeling Productive
  • Fresh air

Small, meaningful pleasures

I don’t get all these things in every day, so I’ve learned to really appreciate and take note of each as they happen. Anyone walking with me will attest to this, as I stop to pat a dog (which I do as often as dog and owner allow) and say, every single time, ‘Thanks. That was GREAT!’ Oftimes my ‘happinesses’ are just fleeing moments – a breath or fresh air when I open a window, a 10-minute conversation with a stranger in the coffee line, laughing at ‘silly cat’ email from my daughter.

Unexpected Gifts

That’s one of the many gifts of regularly putting thought to what I’d want in my life, right up until its end.

Don’t we each have small pleasures that make up the fabric of our lives?

In 2008, Kathy Kastner launched Ability4Life.com for adult children caring for aging parents. Her journey, and the resources curated along the way, is called BestEndings.com (for those who want to talk about the end of life, and those who don’t).

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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  1. Saw this quote today and thought of you and your work, Kathy — “I won’t postpone happiness until I die.” MOHAMED HASHEM, a book publisher who is emigrating amid the turmoil in Egypt.

    Thanks for bringing happiness to this difficult topic.


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