Life should be full of pleasure.
I imagine this word triggers a multitude of things amongst you all. Some of you might be raising your eyebrows assuming I am referring to something sexual. Others might be rolling your eyes, having decided that life mostly sucks and only delusional people think this way. And some of you are smiling— maybe you already live a pleasurable life, or possibly you have been so close, just waiting for that last invite to do so.
No matter your response—it is true and possible. And if you think you don’t have pleasure in your life you are not looking in all of the places.
There is a very slight difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure is an experience which was enjoyable in the past, and which you want to repeat now. So you take actions to repeat that experience; you seek it out. There is no happy accident involved in pleasure. It’s an expected feeling which you visualize and imagine yourself having and therefore pursue it. You essentially want to re-experience a happy memory.
Joy, on the other hand, is mostly an accidental experience of happiness which comes uninvited. Spontaneous joy.
Pleasure is experienced very differently throughout the world. It is not something saved only for certain demographics of the population. It is not set aside for those who have no responsibilities or all of the money. Pleasure is experienced and defined by each individual. Pleasure is doing something that makes you truly feel good.
Awareness and presence are the first steps to finding true pleasure. You must know what brings you pleasure, make a choice to allow yourself to experience it, and live in that moment. (If you need some more advice on cultivating these tools, I know a few good blogs and a pretty cool coach that can help!)
What brings you pleasure?
My list is pretty long so I will spare you a bit. Some of the things that come to the top are warm sun on my skin, laughter until my muscles hurt, traveling with my kids, drinking coffee, witnessing people have mental, physical, or emotional break throughs, a clean and quiet house, a positive run with a friend, finishing a blog or an article that I love, music, crawling into bed after a pleasantly full day, and sex with my husband (yep- I brought in a bit of something to raise your eyebrows at 😉
Although the process is not always easy, reaching hard and real goals brings me true pleasure.
I know that everyone does not love training for endurance events. I do. I love the anticipation and planning for each session. I love the camaraderie of group events and the connections that the racing community affords. I love working hard and finding out what my body is capable of physically. I love knowing that I have put my all into the process.
I do not love every single moment of training. On the morning of writing this blog I had just returned from a pretty miserable ride—one that I struggled with my mindset thinking, “Why is it so windy? This is awful” pretty much on repeat for three long hours. I didn’t love the moment of this specific ride, but I love that I feel grateful for the struggle and content that I accomplished it. This brings me planned pleasure. But, honestly— there was very little pleasure (or spontaneous joy) in that actual ride.
When I cross a finish line after accomplishing my goal of giving my all and not giving in to discomfort, I feel absolute pleasure. This pleasure feels like a stirring in my heart and soul. It is peace. It is joy. I feel filled up and ready to serve others better. I show it by smiling a real, genuine smile.
Does reaching your goals give you real pleasure?
If not there could be many different obstacles in your way. The obvious answer is that you might not be setting the best goals for you. Or you might not have your priorities in order. You might’ve been given the message that seeking pleasure is selfish. It is very possible you are living your life reacting to others, rather than deciding what is best for you. You don’t have to love training in order to race— but the sheer idea of the process shouldn’t make you miserable either.
Spend some quiet time considering what you love and how it makes you feel. Are you cynical about it? Need to hear some truths?
Here are a few mantras you can read and practice to change your mindset:
- I don’t have to earn the right to experiencepleasure. I don’t need to wait for everything to be aligned or to have enough money, success, or time spent suffering.
- My body and the world are for me, not against me. I can live in moments of pleasure.
- Pleasure does not have to be selfish. There is enough for everyone. I am not taking something from someone else by enjoying moments of my life. I can live a life with pleasure and selfless service to others.
- A process can have highs and lows and still lead to undistorted pleasure.
- I can practice experiencing pleasure ahead of time. I can visualize my finish line.
If you do not see pleasure in your life start with considering what could be blocking it. Is it ideals around it now or possibly something you learned about it from a very young age? Practice experiencing pleasure. Reflect on what you love and what you want. Make time for it and let yourself live in it. You don’t have to have all of your chores done or attempt to win the race. You can experience pleasure daily.
It is a vital part to the simple equation to living a full life:
Awareness + presence + gratitude + service + kindness + compassion = the highest highs (pleasure) and the ability to experience fully and learn from the lowest lows.
Enjoy your week. For what it’s worth- you have my permission.