Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Scrolling through this page of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ideas, I ran into a section entitled “Pleasant Activity Scheduling.” I noticed it for multiple reasons: because it reminded me of my “Take A Vacation” exercise; because it seemed so ordinary compared to some of the sections; and also because it reminded me of an incident that occurred while I was struggling with serious depression. I was in a particularly dark place at the time, and I read an article suggesting that people should make sure to plan at least one really fun thing every day, to have something to look forward to. This was when I unable to enjoy almost anything, and for weeks afterwards I’d wake up in the morning, remember that article, try to find something in my day that I was looking forward to, and come up empty. It really didn’t help.
But I’m not there now, thank goodness. However, this idea got me thinking about how I approach my days currently. I can’t say that I dislike most of what I do during the day (with the possible exception of fighting with the two-year-old over brushing teeth), but I’m also not in the habit of planning things that I expect to really enjoy. Most of life seems composed of activities that I can enjoy if I try, and most of the trick is to remember to savor small successes and pleasures. It’s relatively rare that I wake up thinking Oh, today’s the day that I get to…
It’s worth noting that the discussion of “Pleasant Activity Scheduling” suggested, alternately, focusing activities that promoted a sense of mastery or accomplishment, instead of simple pleasure. With that in mind, I’ve decided to try this idea out, but to look at it partly as a matter of reframing. Looking over my schedule for the next couple of weeks, there are several activities I’ve already planned that I could probably enjoy more by deliberately focusing on looking forward to them. On the other days, I’ll try to come up with a specific small activity geared either toward pleasure or mastery. The trick — the thing I’m really testing — is to have it planned beforehand so that I can wake up anticipating it. I’ll just have to see if this impacts my enjoyment of life.