Somewhere along the way, pleasure 1 has developed a bad reputation. I don’t know whether it’s our puritanical Christian heritage or some deep political conspiracy to strip us of our urge to rebel (I read that all authority figures rely on their followers having low self-esteem) but from the moment Eve chose to eat a beautiful, enticing, red juicy apple, we’ve been told that pleasure-seeking behaviour is bad for us.
Everyday I see stories in my news feed admonishing me to quit sugar, or eat clean, or work out until it hurts. I am told that love is only worthwhile if it lasts a lifetime, that a real woman takes care of her skin/body hair/body fat percentage, and that hard work is the only measure of success. According to the experts, only weak, lazy and selfish people give in to their desires. I don’t agree.
Yesterday, I was contemplating the approach of summer and how I would look in a bikini. Such thoughts always lead to examining how I eat. ‘I could clean up my diet,’ I said to myself. So yesterday morning, instead of skipping breakfast, I pulled out a tub of protein powder from the back of the cupboard and made protein pancakes with sugar-free maple syrup. They tasted like shit. I threw them in the bin.
When the quest for a slim, toned body bubbles up to the front of my mind, I dig under the surface. The urge to be thin comes from the desire to be beautiful, and the desire to be beautiful is a desire to be loved. I’m already loved, probably more than I deserve. The shape of my body makes no difference. And to be honest, the picture I have in my head is of a 25-year-old air-brushed model which no diet or exercise program will ever achieve.
Dieting doesn’t bring me pleasure (nor do the results I have been programmed to aspire to) so I choose (again) not to go there. I can be healthy, active and sexy at any shape. If I follow the pleasure principle, I remain true to myself and at peace with who I am. And without the deprivation of food restriction, I am also free from bingeing. There is no pleasure in stuffing myself until I feel sick — a whole block of chocolate is never as good as a single mouthful.
After five years of going to the gym, I no longer enjoy working out. Even if I was inclined to lift weights again, the pain in my shoulder stops me. But when I apply the pleasure principle, moving my body is no longer a chore. I love to walk, to swim in the ocean, to kayak, to cycle, to dance around the bedroom naked. These are the things I do without having to force myself. The pleasure they bring keeps me coming back for more.
I can wear makeup if I like, or not wear it if that makes me happy. I can shave or not shave my legs. I can dye my hair or go grey. I only have to please myself, not anyone else.
And it’s not just all about me. Being kind, loving someone, offering to help, being generous are all pleasurable. I don’t think anyone feels good when they hurt someone else. The pursuit of pleasure is the path to better relationships and an open heart. When I stand in judgment of someone else, all I need to ask is ‘Does what she’s doing bring her genuine pleasure?’ and if the answer is yes then that’s good enough for me.
So today, do something for yourself or for someone else that gives you pleasure. Watch that crappy TV show, eat that chocolate eclair, take a hot bath, iron your boyfriend’s shirt, kiss your puppy, send your mother a card, or write an email saying thanks.
Moments of bliss in life are rare and precious. Go now and create some for yourself. Do it today and every day that follows, and watch your life transform.
Remember the pleasure principle and follow your bliss.
Tell me what is your favourite guilty pleasure?
Is it possible to indulge without feeling the guilt?
- I use the term pleasure to mean any behaviour that brings genuine joy. This excludes such things as addictions or self-harming behaviours used to mask or avoid pain. But if we are to have any hope of facing the real and ever-present pain in our lives, we need to allow ourselves some lighthearted authentic pleasure. ↩
16 thoughts on “The Pleasure Principle • Following Your Bliss”
You are a girl after my own heart! I love to cook, to eat, and one of my greatest (guilty) pleasures is to linger in bed on a Sunday morning and read until I’m so hungry I can’t stand it, then fix myself a lovely, hot breakfast of whatever I am craving.
I love sleeping in on Sunday mornings and a cooked breakfast too. Yummy 😉
I liked this very much. I think we block the path to pleasure with so many “shoulds” and “have tos” and I think we block the path to peace in the process. I related so much to this. Thank you.
Pleasure and peace do seem to go hand in hand. Thanks for stopping by, Susan x
Laying in bed and watching TV with my husband brings me joy. Dripping paint on anything not nailed down brings me joy. Reading blogs and eating ice cream and writing bring me joy.
I don’t feel guilty about any of it. And that is very nearly true!!
What a lovely list, Michelle, especially the dripping paint x
Katie it’s official. I love you!
The feeling’s mutual ♥
I’m like you I don’t see pleasure as guilty. I am overweight, I smoke (yes I know I’m trying), I’ve never been “that” girl, but I also love, and I laugh and I really enjoy life. I wake up in the morning and I’m happy. But my guilty pleasure Doritos. My friends laugh at me cause I often have stained fingers…not from nicotine but from nacho cheese and my sweet tea got to have my sweet tea!
Doritos, cigarettes and sweet tea — I think we were separated at birth 😀
I agree! I love the concept, execution, and vulnerability in this post. Good for you. I pinned it. My spiritual mentor agrees that pleasure has been bastardized. And yes, religion is part of the culprit. Tell it!
Hi Leisa and welcome.
Amen to everything you said 😀
I absolutely adore your positive message. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I am waiting for the rest of society to catch onto this thinking. Wouldn’t it be divine?
Absolutely divine. Perhaps we should start a revolution?
My dear Uncle said “who decided that love was only real if it ended with one person weeping over another’s grave?”
I love the way you think and admire that you share it.
I love your dear Uncle. He sounds fabulous 🙂
Thanks for stopping by.
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