If you were in a serious jam, a real white knuckler, whose help would you seek out—Batman or Robin’s? Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Watson’s?
It’s not that Robin’s some schmuck or Watson’s a clueless rube, but if you were forced to choose, you’d go straight for the main dude. Right?
Happiness in the general sense and pleasure work in much the same way. When push comes to shove, you want to amble down the path of happiness rather than skipping through the alley of pleasure. Does it mean that pleasurable activities are bad? Nope, not at all. Pleasure is nice (okay, it can be way better than nice), but we ought to strive to not go directly for it.
I’m going to go on a very short limb and assume that if you’re like me, you enjoy a warm meal and smoking hot sex (okay, or just sex in general). And ideally, if you’re also like me, you like to have both more than once in a while. To go for it simply and specifically because it feels good, however, gets us caught in a trap.
It’s called the hedonistic paradox that goes waaaaaaaay back to olden times when dial-up was the only way to get online. But really, people have been struggling with this challenge for thousands of years. If something feels good, why not to continue to go for it?
Simply put, the things that satisfy our senses only last a finite amount of time. As the Dalai Lama said, “the pleasure from a good meal can only last us until we’re hungry again.” The same is true for our other base pleasures—sex and exercise—and other social or cultural pleasures—giving service, receiving recognition accomplishment, or taking in the arts.
Our true and lasting sense of happiness does indeed center on a practice of many activities: cultivating gratitude, surprise, curiosity, and mindfulness, among many others.
Does that mean we should throw out pleasure as gluttonous and excessive? I don’t think we should be so careless with it.
Pleasure, in my opinion, is an observation of when we are enjoying ourselves and celebrating it! Smile when you’ve felt that runner’s high after jogging five miles in the Metroparks. Or maybe handpound your lover (or maybe not).
As this wonderful summer continues, enjoy those pleasurable moments as they come. Cheers!
Brought to you by: Dan