There are lot of negative connotations around the word “pleasure.” Even though our most necessary functions (eating, having sex, sleeping, socializing) are pleasurable in order to ensure that we do them, most people still distrust things that are pleasurable to them, fearing that they won’t be able to control themselves when it comes to the pleasurable activity. Pleasure is simply a mechanism for ensuring that what must get done, does. Really, it’s just a message that tells you when you should do something over and over again. Treat it as a message and you will be on the right track, treat it as an end in and of itself and you may find yourself in a place you don’t want to be. In the previous post, I wrote that you should do whatever you want if you want to give the best of yourself to mankind. In essence, you should do what gives you the most pleasure because you will be able to excel at these things and therefore be more creative with them. These activities give you pleasure in the moment, like eating or sleeping, and therefore you do them over and over again.
But, the truth is, while I generally follow this principle, there are also times when I’m not doing something that gives me pleasure in the moment, but that gives me pleasure in a grander sense. For instance, I find pleasure in thinking ideas through/analysis, communicating in writing and speaking, and generating new ideas/problem solving. These also happen to be major skills that I use in my job and in my free time (this blog for example). I take pleasure in them, so I do them, I get better at them, so I become proficient in them. Good for me. But, what about when I do something I’m scared of or something that I just don’t feel like doing, what is it that’s guiding me then? How am I picking up the message that I should do this thing? Simple. I am taking pleasure in living my priorities. Rather than finding pleasure in the moment, I’m finding pleasure in my priorities. For example, I have donated blood twice since the beginning of the year, but the first time I did it I was pretty nervous. One, I don’t really like needles and two, I tend to get faint when something doesn’t agree with my body. But, I decided to donate blood because personal growth is important to me and a part of that is doing things you are afraid of, and two, I think it’s important to give (your time, your money, your blood, etc.). I was taking pleasure in these priorities, rather than taking pleasure in the moment. (It actually wasn’t that bad.)
So, does pleasure in a priority always take rank over pleasure in the moment? Well, I’m not exactly sure, but I think so. Although sometimes they happen at the same time, which makes things really easy ;). Remember, pleasure is not just for hedonists anymore. Find pleasure in something and do it. Find pleasure in your priorities and live them.
Pleasure is the greatest incentive to evil. – Plato
Pleasure is the object, duty and the goal of all rational creatures. – Voltaire