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I can lose myself in a good novel for hours on end and forget about the world, my actual life, and my child. I can dissolve into the experience of eating a delicious cookie or fabulous cake. I can binge-watch Netflix shows (especially spy shows!) with the best of them.

Sometimes, I stay up late and keep on reading, eat another cookie, or sink deeper into the latest Netflix series, because it feels delicious.

Other times, what happens is this:

I think I have a craving, so I dig into the book, show, or dessert. Instead of feeling the delicious feeling of a craving satisfied, I feel one of two things:

1) An obsessive need to keep reading, watching, or eating

2) A sense of emptiness

These are clear indicators that I’ve missed the mark and haven’t addressed my true craving.

Pleasure is meant to be part of our lives. It’s meant to be tasted, welcomed, and enjoyed. However, it’s easy to pick the wrong pleasure sometimes when we’re not tuned in to our true needs.

When I notice that I haven’t satisfied my craving for delight or pleasure with my book, show, or cookie, it’s time to look deeper.

The question is, what is my true craving?

The true essence of what I crave is hiding underneath the surface desire. Instead of a book, show, or cookie, the craving might be rest, relaxation, play, fun, alone time, or refreshment. There are times when a book, show, or cookie does fulfill the essence of my craving. But when they don’t, it means I haven’t fully connected to myself to find out what I truly need.

Last week, I found myself reaching for Netflix. However, it just didn’t hit the spot. Even though it sounded fun to keep watching, I knew it wasn’t addressing my true craving. I turned it off and grabbed my journal. After jotting notes for a few minutes, the true craving began to emerge.

The essence of my craving was definitely rest and alone time. However, it was bigger than that. I needed structure around my alone time. I was feeling tossed about by the waves of motherhood and work, without enough time to reconnect to me. I craved a bedtime ritual, which I’d somehow lost among the travel and busy-ness of the last few months. I craved a morning ritual, which had disappeared during stomach flu week and never returned.

Even though I love reading or enjoying a show in my free time, my true craving was to go to bed early enough to have a morning routine again. It felt more delicious to spend time journaling, connecting to myself, and finding inspiration in a few spiritual writings than it did to read a novel or watch a show.

Did my mind argue with this choice? Oh yes. It always does. I had to remind it that the quick hit from the book or TV would only leave me feeling empty this time. It wasn’t going to feel delicious, because it wasn’t the true craving. Instead, I’d feel a little disconnected from myself and like my spirit was unsatisfied.

With my true craving addressed, I feel lighter, happier, and even rested, despite getting up earlier. I can breathe easier and something has opened up within my heart. That’s the signal that I’ve found the true craving and I’m following my inner guidance.

Pleasure comes in many forms, so you’ll have to look carefully as you explore your own cravings.

What feels like total joy to you in one moment will change tomorrow, or next week. It’s ever evolving, because it’s restoring you in different ways as you travel through life. Sometimes a novel is just the ticket. Other times, cleaning the closet feels like bliss. (No, really! This just happened to me last weekend!)

The key is to stop judging yourself for the pleasures you enjoy (why do we call them guilty pleasures, anyway?) and connecting to your true cravings. When you remove judgment and seek to know your true needs, you open the door to an entirely different world of self care. In the end, the things that need to get done actually get done with joy and pleasure. Call me crazy, but I promise you, this happens.

Besides, what do you have to lose? Nothing! Instead, you’ll be adding more pleasure to your life and addressing your true cravings. Now that is what I call delicious!