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June 23, 2024

New SCU research to explore how we cherish the small pleasures

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A nationwide survey investigating the nature and extent of Australians’ pleasures has been launched this week by Southern Cross University.

The National Pleasure Audit aims to provide a snapshot of where people find pleasure, how much of it they find, as well as how often and how strongly they experience certain positive feelings. The survey is open to all Australians over 18.

‘We want to know more about the link between wellbeing and experiencing pleasure,’ said the academic behind the project, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Dr Desirée Kozlowski.

‘The evidence is growing very strongly to show that increasing our range of pleasurable experiences is associated with a number of benefits, from reducing perceived stress, depression and anxiety to boosting our immune function and even our longevity.’

A specialist in the research field of pleasure and emotional intelligence, Dr Kozlowski defines pleasure simply as ‘something that feels enjoyable’, with the small things often playing the biggest part.

‘If we build up a variety of more small pleasures each day we increase our resilience,’ she said.

‘From stopping to enjoying the smell of coffee and the warm feeling of the cup in your hand, to stepping into a hot shower, or walking on the grass with no shoes on, all these things can reduce our anxiety and stress.

‘The way this works is by activating the equal but opposite arm of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic division, and that’s all about rest and restoration.’

The National Pleasure Audit not only asks respondents to consider what gives them pleasure, but to quantify how much time and value they place on maximising the experience.

This can be through positive anticipation of a pleasurable experience, savouring the moment, or positive reminiscing.

According to Dr Kozlowski, there is evidence that the act of savouring enhances the positive effects of pleasure, with some people more inclined to savour, or maximise, their experiences of pleasure.

‘There is also evidence that savouring can be increased through training and that such increases can produce an upward spiral of benefits over sustained periods. This kind of intervention can also reduce anxiety and depression,’ she said.

Data from the survey will be used to inform Dr Kozlowski’s research into pleasure and provide foundations for future work on boosting pleasure in order to improve health and quality of life.

The National Pleasure Audit is an anonymous online survey consisting of questions about experiences that people find to be pleasurable, together with validated measures of psychological wellbeing, positive and negative affect, and tendency toward savouring.

You can participate in The National Pleasure Audit and distribute the link to others who might be interested: www.NationalPleasureAudit.com.

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  1. They needed a study to figure that out? Low hanging fruit.

    Stop sending your kids to daycare people. They are small pleasures that will give you all the happiness and love you will ever need… if you give them the chance.


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