Our pleasure shows us where we are in alignment. It is a natural built in system that shows us what is right for us. However, not all experiences we might label as pleasurable are created equal.
It is helpful to learn to differentiate between different types of pleasure. For example, eating a piece of chocolate cake might feel good in the moment but that does not necessarily mean it is really in alignment with you. To determine whether it is or not you need to pay attention to the entire experience. While you’re eating the chocolate cake, it might actually be a pleasurable experience, but how do you feel after you eat the chocolate cake? Does it continue to be a pleasurable experience?
It is also helpful to pay attention to the quality of the pleasure; is it consistent throughout the layers of the experience? Using the same example of the chocolate cake, it might feel good in your mouth, but not feel good in your body. Maybe it negatively impacts our emotions because it’s more food than we actually need, and we know it and so we feel a little uncomfortable about having eaten it. While I am using the example of chocolate cake, this approach applies to all experiences in our lives. How we feel at work. How we feel in our relationships. As we pay attention, more to our pleasure and learn to really listen to it we strengthen our ability to navigate through life.
Another thing that gets in the way of using pleasure as our guide is having a negative relationship with pleasure. Because of this you can feel badly about something that is actually good for you. Your conditioning distorts the picture of what you are experiencing based on ideas about what you should or should not enjoy. The opposite can also be true. We can learn to feel pleasure associated with things that are not good for us through conditioning as well.
The basic experience gets distorted by misconceptions and misinterpretations of events that take what would be a simple mechanism for determining what is right for us and making it confusing. It would be wonderful if it was as easy as if it is a pleasurable experience, then it is in alignment and you can say yes to it we can welcome more of it into your life. And if it is not a pleasurable experience then you want to redirect and go in a different direction. Once we get past all of the conditioning this is true, but it takes some time to do so.
It may seem as if with all this conditioning it is impossible to trust how you feel about things. However, the trick is not to cast pleasure aside and start trying to figure out what is best through your mind but instead to dive more deeply in and practice paying closer attention.
To use pleasure as a guide, and it is a very useful guide, you can start by paying attention to where you might be filtering or misinterpreting the information that’s coming in about what is pleasurable,. You can then learn about what works for you or does not work for you in any given situation. As you pay attention to all aspects of your experience around an event that you consider pleasurable you become more refined about what is truly pleasurable.
As we become more and more refined, it becomes easier to have that simple relationship with pleasure –if it feels good then it is good. Then you are able to use pleasure to cultivate people, places, things, situations and activities in your life.
As you do so, you will feel so better and better in all aspects of your life because you are creating a life that is in alignment with you. As you cultivate this, it actually raises your overall energy.; your energy starts operating at a higher level, which continues the refinement process of your pleasure. This allows you to hone in on what it is that is working for you and what it is that’s best for you through what feels good.
Then your pleasure becomes this incredibly valuable tool for creating a life that feels really good and is really in alignment with who you are.
Both self-care and pleasure begin with self-love. As we love ourselves more and more, it creates the conditions for pleasure, for our continued well-being, and for us to really care for ourselves. However, it’s not necessarily a linear process wherein one thing creates the other. It’s more of a cycle: This love creates the conditions for self-care, and self-care opens the door to even more love for ourselves. Love creates an environment for pleasure and the conditions for us to experience pleasure. And then, this pleasure again creates a sense of well-being and welcomes in even more love.
There are various aspects to understanding how to bring in a new skill or develop a new area of our lives, but people often get confused about their personal development because they feel like they are getting conflicting information. This is often because they’re trying to see it as a linear process when it’s actually a multidimensional process. We adjust one part, then another, and then another, and that eventually snaps the whole new way of being into place.
Our self-love is an essential ingredient in developing our self-care and pleasure.
So, what does it mean to love ourselves? I get this question a lot.
There are many behaviors that show that we love ourselves. Primarily, self-love occurs when we treat ourselves with respect, care, and kindness. But it is more than ways of acting toward yourself. It’s also actually cultivating a flow of love through all dimensions of who you are. Learning to love yourself is partly about cultivating the feeling or sensation or energy of love in all aspects of who you are. You allow this flowing love to run through you and into all aspects of your life.
Exercise for loving yourself:
1. Think of something or someone whom you really love, and focus your attention on feeling that a strongly as possible.
2. Expand that feeling through your attention.
3. Take this feeling and apply it to yourself.
Once you have a read on what love feels like, then you can start to access different parts of your experience. For example, while you’re eating, is this self-love present? While you’re with this person, is this self-love present? While you’re taking a walk—and so on. You can see whether this love is present in all aspects of your life and environment. You can look at each one of these aspects by comparing what is present to this strong love. Where you find love to be lacking, you can ask yourself “what would allow that feeling to come in more? What kind of changes in my behavior or in the kind of people I’m around?”
Sometimes you will know and sometimes you can just experiment. If you have trouble coming up with new ideas, then there are plenty of ideas available online. Otherwise, just try something out. For example, perhaps try to be a bit more intentional while you’re walking and then pay attention to whether or not that shifts things. Or, if you try speaking your truth a little bit more in your relationships, does that help? After each experiment, assess whether it strengthened the love that you were feeling or not.
As you experiment with creating a life full of self-love, you to be able to better refine what it is that you’re doing so that you can have more of this self-love in your life. Loving yourself raises your energy, and that allows you to make better and better choices for yourself. It allows you to draw in more pleasure. It allows you the ability to better care for yourself.
For more about self care take a look at my article >>> “On Self Care”
I. Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.
II. “Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.” — Brenna Yovanoff
III. “Intention is not something you do, but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy- a power that can carry us. It’s the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and don’t let go of it until you make it a reality. Inspiration is the reverse- when an idea gets hold of you and you feel compelled to let that impulse or energy carry you along. You get to a point where you realize that you’re no longer in charge, that there’s a driving force inside you that can’t be stopped. Look at the great athletes, musicians, artists, and writers. They all tap into a source.” — Wayne Dyer
IV. “In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link” — Carlos Castaneda
V. “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” — Bryant McGill
VI. “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” — Seneca
VII. “It is not good enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” — Walt Kelly
VIII. “You’ve got to know what you want. This is central to acting on your intentions. When you know what you want, you realize that all there is left then is time management. You’ll manage your time to achieve your goals because you clearly know what you’re trying to achieve in your life.” — Patch Adams
IX. “The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.” — Gary Zukav
X. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” — William A. Foster
XI. “Energy is directed by intention into action. If the action is not happening, if you’re finding excuses to not do whatever you set out to do, revisit your intention. Perhaps you were not being honest with yourself. Where is your energy flowing instead? That is where your intention sits.” — Akiroq Brost
XII. “Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it.” — David duChemin
XIII. “Gratitude in advance is the most powerful creative force in the Universe.” — Neale Donald Walsh
XIV. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” — Wilfred Arlan Peterson, The Art of Living, Day by Day
XV. “Intention is more than wishful thinking—it’s willful direction. It is a philosophy of the heart put into practice, a consistency of conscious patterns of thought, energy, and action. Through intention, we see more and create with more clarity, passion, and authenticity. Our attention then becomes a spotlight for every shred of supporting evidence that we’re on the right path.” — Jennifer Williamson
XVI. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” — Henry David Thoreau
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.
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.
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.