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The Importance of Pleasure
Pleasure has a bad rep. It’s lambasted as time-wasting, self-indulgent, selfish. Our culture, long based on Christian principles, renounces pleasure and preaches self-denial.
Hedonistic beasts, thy pleasure is sin! Be damned to hell and perdition!
People don’t allow themselves to seek pleasure as an end in itself.
But we all know how wonderful pleasure really is.
Those calm moments of comfort, that satisfying tingling spread across your stomach, the warm rush of warmth; these moments of pleasure all signal one thing: you’re on the path to happiness. The passing feeling of pleasure allows you to escape your worries and anxieties; you can feel pleasure despite of them. And that’s the best thing anyone can do.
So how, in the face of chronic pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety do you find any pleasure? How is it possible?
It is a dreadful inconvenience that at the precise moment pleasure and enjoyment are just what you need, you don’t have the motivation to do anything at all.
It seems human nature to wallow. We are the hippos of negative emotion and the deeper in the mud we become entrenched, the harder it is to pull ourselves out. When we’re ill or depressed, this cocoon of mud, while crusty with filth, is a barrier to something worse: the outside world and the unknown.
It’s safe in the mud; there are no threats there. Outside, with its shock of cold and uncomfortable new experiences, it might make everything feel worse. So we stay ensconced in our mud and do nothing to make ourselves feel better.
When you’re feeling down, the pursuit of pleasure should be your top priority. If we make pleasure our passion, if we seek it every day, in everything we do, we can escape the negativity. And in this we are putting ourselves first. Not because we are selfish and care little for others, but because we do care about ourselves. Besides no-one wants to spend time with a grumpy hippo do they?
So set your mind to it, whether you need to schedule pleasurable activities, or break with routine and find a spontaneous moment of joy. By reflecting on pleasure and what you’ve achieved, this is pleasurable in itself.
Edit: It’s been suggested that this page might be ill-advised, by making no distinction between healthy pleasure and harmful pleasure.
But isn’t that the knee jerk reaction we see to pleasure all the time? It’s like we don’t trust ourselves. Are we scared we’ll become addicted to pleasure? That it’ll take us down the spiral towards the inevitable: becoming a smack-injecting, sex addict searching for our next high?
Real pleasure is the stuff that happiness is made from. If a pleasurable activity does not lead you along the path to happiness, it’s not a worthy pleasure at all. Instead, it’s just a high, and you know that the low will follow and take all the pleasurable feelings away. Activities that promote this roller coaster are not the pleasurable tasks we’re talking about on this page.
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