A lot of times when people think about being happier in their life, they think about “having something”—having a sense of purpose, having the right relationship, having some quality of life that’s going to result in them feeling happier. In reality, having these things doesn’t always equal feeling happy. What does make us happier is incorporating the experience of pleasure into our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life.
When we learn what it is that we like and enjoy—and we learn how to do it more and more—we become happier.
Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to live the majority of our time in a state of deprivation, only occasionally providing ourselves with rewards. A classic example of this is to work all week so that you can enjoy yourself on the weekend. The idea is that you put in time being disciplined (“doing the right thing,” being responsible, making sacrifices) and that buys you some time to do what you actually enjoy.
When we live life this way, we can fall into the trap of having less and less pleasure in our life and thus less and less happiness. People who live this way often experience burnout. They report feeling a sense of fatigue, experiencing a flat emotional state, and wondering what the point of it all is.
To fix this problem, we start to turn things on their head. We ask the questions, “How can I bring more pleasure into my existence on a regular and consistent basis? What happens if I question the notion that pleasure is a reward rather than a state of being?”
It is helpful to start small. What are some easy ways to bring more pleasure into your life? It can be anything from bringing a picture into work that reminds you of something pleasurable to eating your favorite food or taking a moment to see something that’s beautiful in your environment. We can start with these simple methods and then build on them.
Then, we can start to ask bigger questions, such as “Am I engaging in work that is actually pleasurable to me? Do I enjoy myself when I spend time alone? Does this person in my life bring experiences of pleasure?”
Pursuing what brings us pleasure does not mean that every single aspect of life will now be enjoyable or that we will no longer experience difficulty, pain, or challenge, but it will start us working in a way that creates a life that feels good. By doing this, we start undoing the habits and patterns that keep us in a place of deprivation.
Pursuing more pleasure in our life helps ensure that we are happier on a regular basis. It feeds us at a very deep level. It takes care of us in a way that we cannot address through goals and plans. It ensures our happiness in the moment to moment.
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