The problem with pleasure is nothing…except the interpretation we bring to it. Sometimes I think the only other topic with more confusion around it is that of money (i.e. the misreading of scripture that “money is the root of all evil”). From a similar, puritanical place we are taught that pleasure is synonymous with selfishness. That it degrades the spirit. That giving pleasure is better than receiving it. That we shouldn’t have too much fun because then something bad will happen.
Different Kinds Of Pleasure
There are aphorisms and superstitions around the topic of pleasure that do not serve anyone. Truth told: pleasure should be the predominant experience of a person’s life with pain being the exception. Of course, here at AskDanandJennifer.com, the kind of pleasure that first comes to mind is sexual pleasure. But pleasure is something that should be a part of most of our pursuits in life. In your job, career, volunteer work, hobbies, friendships, family, shopping, religious or spiritual expression, there should always be a pay off for giving your time, attention, and talents to these pursuits. And the pay offs should provide genuine pleasure.
For instance, some people choose careers in order to please their parents. To make a different choice, even if it brought personal satisfaction and pleasure, would produce too much guilt. There’s a negative pay off to pursuing the career or job that makes the parents happy and that is you get to feel loyal. But that loyalty can lead to dissatisfaction, resentment, and deep unhappiness. Whereas, suffering a little guilt and pursuing your dreams can produce satisfaction, joy, and tremendous happiness!
Some people are the sounding boards for practically every single person in their lives. They wind up giving and giving and giving until it hurts! They give their time, attention, even their money, to make sure that the people in their lives know they are loved and valued. The problem is these folks don’t get this kind of love and attention returned to them. They are so easy to get along with and so pleasing, that everyone who uses them thinks they’re fine, that they have it all together, and that they don’t anything from anybody.
There is initial pleasure for the giver in such relationships because it does feel good to be so well appreciated. However, the day comes when most conversations with your friends and colleagues make you feel like a used, dirty rag. Real pleasure comes from relationships that have healthy give and take from both sides. Everyone needs to receive regular attention and nurturing support. Some give of themselves sexually in such a way as to please their partner for fear that attending to their own pleasure will have bad results. They fear coming across as too self-centered. Truthfully, there is no greater pleasure than knowing your lover totally trusts you with his or her sexual pleasure. It is a huge complement when your partner melts at your touch, or over the way your breath feels on the back of her neck, or through the direct eye contact he gives you that lets you know you’ve found the exact right spot.
If your romantic partner refuses to find pleasure in your sensuality and makes you feel wrong in any way for desiring sexual pleasure or sensual attention; it takes a lot of courage to confront the situation inside yourself, in the first place, and with him or her as well. Our bodies, minds, and souls were built to receive pleasure. If you deny yourself this natural, human expression, you’ll pay dearly with resentment, anger, even depression. Allowing someone to determine that you are bad or wrong for desiring pleasure is the same thing as denying yourself.
Having trouble with pleasure is built in to a variety of cultures around the world. However, there is a simple and effective way that will allow you to open up to receive more pleasure in your life. It does take courage and some effort, but it’s worth it. All you have to do is commit to loving yourself more each day. People who love themselves allow greater amounts of pleasure into their lives. If they are alone, they take care of their own needs and desires. If they are in a relationship, they learn how to effectively ask for what they want. Because they appreciate themselves and their own pleasure so much, they have a whole lot of love and pleasuring to give as well. A circle of energy is created in their lives with plenty of give and take in most of their relationships.
With a commitment to love yourself more each day, you find yourself doing and saying things to you that you would give to someone you highly value. You say, “I love you!” to yourself. You give yourself good strokes for things well done. You dress in such a way that you enhance your good feelings towards yourself. You are patient with yourself and yet you challenge you to be better, strive farther, and accomplish more because you value your potential! These kinds of things will give you pleasure. As your self-worth and pleasure increase, you will attract those who desire to give you pleasure as well. And then life will be fuller, richer, and sweeter – with the hard times handled with more grace and confidence.