Pleasure gets limited airtime in the personal development world. We talk about happiness, fulfillment, and other positive states, but pleasure somehow feels a bit more challenging to engage with.
It often goes in one of two directions: Pleasure gets entirely left out as we focus on goals and purpose, or it’s implied that after you reach your goals or develop your purpose, pleasure will be the result—once you are successful, then you will fully enjoy your life and feel regular pleasure. In either case, it becomes a silent but active participant in evaluating our goals and activities in life. If we are not feeling pleasure, we can wonder if we are going in the wrong direction or didn’t actually make the good choices we thought we had. This may or may not be true.
I want to talk a little bit about both of these approaches to pleasure because they’re both really informative.
When pleasure is seen as an end result or gets left out entirely, life becomes quite dry. For example, you might achieve your goals, but even when you get them you find yourself less than thrilled about your life. You might see a large degree of success in many different ways, but you are not actually enjoying the benefits of the work that you’ve done. Along with misguided thinking that creates this perspective comes a lack of skill in how to experience pleasure. We actually have to learn how to embody pleasure in many different ways before we can add meaning to the hard work we do to reach our goals. When we do, we start not only to reach our goals but to enjoy them.
When we live believing that we should always feel good (regardless of how conscious this belief is) and we evaluate our life predominantly through this lens, we deaden our experience and ultimately decrease our pleasure. Very important things happen in our lives that don’t exactly come with a lot of pleasure, such as difficult realizations, moments of transformation, and moments of embracing the more difficult aspects of ourselves. These moments don’t necessarily feel good as we move through them, but the discomfort is not a sign that we are doing something wrong. In fact, if we allow ourselves to feel discomfort, the end result is that we embrace a whole new level of pleasure.
Pleasure is something to pay close attention to. If you do not, then chances are you’re not working with it as effectively as you could be.
If you start to pay attention to where pleasure is in your life, it shows where you might want to spend more time or where you might want to direct your energy. If you’re noticing that there is an absence of pleasure, even if you are meeting your goals and expectations, you’re doing your life in a less successful way than if you were meeting all your goals and having pleasure. In this case, you might want to look at how you can bring more pleasure into your daily life.
Exploring pleasure and how it informs your experience is really a very important component of our overall growth process. It is something that I very much enjoy working on with people in my intensives and any of my programs, because as we start to work with it, so much of our life changes.
How does exploring pleasure distract from or move us toward self awareness? Find this video and more videos that support your personal development here: The Wisdom and Distraction of Pleasure
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