Do You Ever Get a Huge Pleasure Just From Looking at a Particular Object? What?

“The rack stood as if it had been there forever across the landscape and lit by the sun with its long shadow behind it, and in harmony with every fold of the field and finally turned into a mere form, a primordial form, even if that was not the word I used then, and it gave me huge pleasure just to look at it. I can still feel the same thing today when I see a hayrack in a photograph from a book, but all that is a thing of the past now…so the feeling of pleasure slips into the feeling that time has passed, that it is very long ago, and the sudden feeling of being old.”

Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

  • Clint


  • Mimi Gregor

    Although a single book can bring me pleasure — if it is the right book, books, collectively immediately calm me as well as bring me pleasure. Just walking into a library or a used book store, or one of the used book sales that are sometimes given for a charity… well,it’s like coming home. The smell of books… the feel of them in the hand… as well as speculating on the possibly many people who have read the book before me… all of this is a heady mixture for a bibliophile.

    • MaggieRose59

      Mimi, I have to tell you this just because you’ll get it! I always loved the movie “Gone With the Wind” but for some reason I never thought I would like the book. Well last year I saw it on ibooks and I bought it and read it on my computer (something I almost never do). Well it is one of the best written books I have ever read and it moved immediately into my top 10. Now I just had to find a good hard cover edition to add to my library. I went the following month to visit my mother and told her about reading the book and wanting to find one. She says “oh, I have a copy of that somewhere around here”. She finds this old hard cover edition on her shelf that has the names of all my family members who have ever read it written inside the front. My grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles and great aunts. AND in an envelope pasted inside the back cover is a note to my grandfather
      asking if he remembered meeting Margaret Mitchell and her husband at a bridge party at his sister-in-laws. Because Miss Mitchell had just published her first novel and Connie (the sister-in-law) had helped type the manuscript.
      Is that cool or what!

      • Mimi Gregor

        I love that! Synchronicity is an amazing thing! One of the things I love about used books is that they come with a history: underlined passages that meant something to someone once… notes or cards used as bookmarks.. a little note to someone to whom it’s meant as a gift. Some of the coolest bookmarks I own have come to me from used books.

    • next to my paper fetish, I love my books as well. I arrange and rearrange them from time to time (color coding them lately). But to have and see books of my liking, especially of my hobbies; writing and keeping fun journals, sometimes I just look at them with contentment and peace. You nailed it. 🙂

  • jbassford

    I have this feeling when I look at a church from my parents window. It is an amazing vista looking out to the North Sea in Scotland and it is so calming. Or even looking at a favourite mug from my Sister gives me the same feeling can be very powerful.

  • MaggieRose59

    A road map.

  • Donna

    There was a hillside next to a road that had become a busy road and it had an apple orchard acoss the hills. I especially liked it in the winter when the trees made a patchwork pattern up and down the hills. I would drive by it on purpose and look as long as I could while passing. Then it was torn down and a shopping area sprung up. When I drive by I still see the ghost of the orchard in my mind and not the mall. That happens a lot around our town as it develops and is a strange phenomenon seeing the orchard, the sile or the farm that is gone to everyone but me. That’s when I realize I am getting old.

  • Sarah Corbett Morgan


  • Julia

    My bird feeder hanging in my backyard. I love watching the chickadees, juncos, finches and sparrows .

    • gretchenrubin

      Love all these things to look at!

    • we have pair of turtle doves visiting every day- so pretty!

  • John P. Daly

    My Jaguar XK8 with the top down.

  • Anchit

    Trains, buses and trucks 🙂

  • Nicolette Anderson

    I have a silver necklace of a sea turtle that I got on my first trip to Maui. Whenever I look at it, it brings me great calm and pleasure, as it reminds of my happy place, and how I feel when I am on that beach. I often wear it as a talisman, and when I touch it, it takes me back to the calm I feel when I am in Hawaii. (I live in Canada, btw)

  • Peggy

    In Denver you can look West and see the mountains. They are breath taking & fill you with love & appreciation. This can happen on any day. Amazing grace.

  • Starlina616

    My Angel collection. 🙂


  • Jeanne

    May be obvious, but the moon. As a child, I was so oppressed,repressed and depressed that I actually could not see any beauty around me, I barely knew there was a moon. My grandfather grew tulips that must have been breathtaking, but I could only wonder why people grew flowers when you couldn’t eat them. Somehow I did manage to connect with trees though, so now they all bring me great joy. Now that I’ve moved passed most of my childhood stuff, I can’t get enough of the flowers and the moon too. The big yellow full moon rising and the craggy Cypress trees in Monterey practically stop my heart with amazement and gratitude.

    • gretchenrubin

      If I remember, I think people in Japan used to (or maybe still do) have “moon-watching parties.” What a beautiful idea.

  • Peaches

    I love that you pose this question because I’ve actually noticed all of what Petterson says every time I visit a lake or see pictures of the lake where I grew up. I truly get a sense of spirituality, joy and of time gone by every single time I see the lake! If I’m lucky enough to also see the reflection of the moon over the lake – wow! It’s almost an overwhelming feeling of serenity (if that’s possible!) I seldom take the time to consider or put words to these feelings. Talk about HUGE pleasure….

    • gretchenrubin


  • I have something big that I get the butterflies-in-the-stomach major rush and that’s the ocean. I live in Northern Minnesota so when I get to see it, it gives me a happiness that words can hardly describe. As for something smaller – an everyday type of thing, it would probably be paper. I have a paper fetish. Ready to write on pretty paper for journaling, empty notebooks, pretty notebooks, little or big, all empty. This is like a white canvas to me. I love to write, use everything from pens to colored writing instruments. However since I could remember, paper is my go to for a happy me. (me hugging a stack of empty notebooks).

  • Kate Ostrem

    I have a lamp that sits on a table under one of the windows in the front of my house that I really love. It has simple, clean lines and a plain white shade, but it’s this beautiful turquoise blue which makes it stand out. I especially love seeing it lit up from outside in the evening. If I’m coming back from a walk in the neighborhood, it looks so welcoming. And once, last summer, I was inside our house with the windows open. I could hear two women who were walking by talking, and one of them said, “Look at that cute lamp, that looks like something Kate would have in her house – oh, wait! This is Kate’s house!” So funny.

  • Chrissy

    Sometimes just the owning of something beautiful and luxurious can send a warm shimmy of pleasure through me. Dresses it pleases me simply to have in my closet, though I may only wear one once in a blue moon…beautiful things spark joy✨

  • Kathryn

    I love looking at rust. The lacy patterns of decomposition. The variance of color.

  • Leah Claire

    My cat, Lester, who is nine years old, and has definitely achieved his magnificence. He is a warm, rich, and muted orange colour, with a broad head, thick coat, and wide, wide, six-toed paws. Somehow, when he is settled on his belly with his tail wrapped and toes tucked in, eyes all squinty-shut, all I need do is lay my gaze on him to be instantly, utterly, and completely rested. I could stay there forever. There is something about his form and his energy – it feeds me in my middle, and is the best experience of yyyummmm I know.

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  • Carey Aydelotte

    Fabric. I love the textures, the sheen, the way it moves. I have quite a collection of beautiful fabrics. Sometimes I sew with it, but usually I find that I’ve “ruined” it by doing that. I really just love to look at it.

  • Mikki Burcher

    A new notebook or a fresh piece of paper; especially a blank planner. Gives me such a huge sense of hope and possibility. Also, I really love looking at typography, and much of the art in my home is quote prints in beautiful typography.

  • Stacy Mott

    Artwork that my husband and I have purchased together. There is always a reason we have decided to buy a piece of artwork and it is most often because it speaks to each of us in a certain way. The great thing is that we get enjoyment each type we look at it!

  • Hollie Payne

    I love my rose bushes in the summer. I can stand there and look at them and I notice the different shapes of the petals. I notice the colors and the variations and the similarities. I could spend all day just soaking in the happiness my roses bring me.

  • Andrew Douglas

    I gain great pleasure and inspiration looking at and sensing the natural world, ranging from the hairy armpit of an insect, a rock, a wallaby, a waterfall, a gorge, a reef, a forest, a mountain range, a whole landscape, a satellite image, to the image of the Earth from space.

    The natural world being left to do what it does best brings me great peace and happiness.

    A friend of mine, Ronald the Koala wholeheartedly agrees as he is fully dependent on his forest! :D)

  • Emm

    little plane flying in a blue sky

  • Angela

    I love tall ships. My husband got me a beautiful model of a sail boat for my birthday and I put it on the windowsill in our living room. Now every time I am coming home I see it and I feel huge pleasure of how beautiful it is. And every time I pass it at home I pause for a moment and admire it. Sometimes I even sit on the couch in front of the window just to look at it.

  • Elizabeth

    Photos of my two daughters on my iPhone. I scroll through them over and over and it brings me lots of happiness to see their cute little faces.

  • Mel

    One banal, one sublime.
    My banal is looking at the trousers I refashioned and how well they turned out. I often get them out of the cupboard just to look at them and then put them back. I’m tickled!
    My sublime is looking up through a white gum tree at a clear blue Australian summer sky. It’s so commonplace (in Australia obviously) but so incredibly beautiful.