When you center your pleasure, magical things happen.
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t raised to consider my own pleasure. I was taught that my job was to please others. If I did a good job, I’d get approved of.
And if a man approved of me, he might “pick” me to stay in his life. Which meant he liked the way I pleased him, and he thought it would be nice to have me pleasing him forever. (!!)
So it’s no surprise that I spent half my life in automatic “man-pleasing mode.”
Whenever I was with a man in a romantic context, I felt responsible for him. For his mood. For whether he had a good time.
I felt responsible EVEN IF I didn’t like him. It didn’t matter how I felt. It was always my job to make this a good experience for him.
I wish I’d known then what I know now.
I wasted so much time and energy trying to be pleasing when instead I could have exploring my OWN pleasure.
And that’s what I want to talk to you about today:
Your pleasure, and the power of harnessing that pleasure in your life.
Don’t Let Marketers Hijack Your Pleasure
“Pleasure” is such a loaded word.
What comes to mind when you think of pleasure?
A massage? A day at the beach? Licking an ice cream cone in the sun?
Gluttony? Hedonism? X-rated hijinks?
These days, the folks who care most about how we define pleasure are marketers.
Marketers use the promise of pleasure to sell everything from cars to shampoo.
And they define pleasure in INCREDIBLY narrow terms.
Pleasure is sexy; it’s not comfy.
Pleasure is chocolate cake; it’s not a cup of tea.
Pleasure is what men do to you; it’s not what you do to yourself.
Their goal is to get you to believe that you need what they’re selling if you want to experience intense pleasure.
And of course we ALL want to experience intense pleasure…
So we go ahead and buy.
We wash our hair with that shampoo.
We drink that beverage.
We spray on that perfume.
And how do we feel?
No different than before!
We can’t BUY pleasure because pleasure is not “out there.”
It’s IN HERE.
It’s in our sensory organs and our nervous system and our brain chemicals.
Pleasure is a physical response to what pleases us.
And what pleases each and every one of us is incredibly INDIVIDUAL.
If pleasure is the way your body responds to what pleases you, then how do you know what’s pleasurable?
You listen to your BODY, not your mind.
For me, the experience of pleasure often comes with a sigh.
I’m like, “Oh… that is so GOOD.”
I can feel my insides relaxing. I close my eyes.
I take a blissful moment to savor those pleasurable sensations.
We have to remind ourselves to enjoy pleasure.
How often do you do something you really enjoy and barely notice it because your mind is on other things?
One way I prime myself to remember pleasure is by making pleasure part of my morning routine.
I won’t head out the door until I’ve had just ONE moment of peace and enjoyment that I can carry with me as fuel for a long day.
(For me, that’s my morning coffee and doughnut. Two shots of espresso with cream and one of my insanely good homemade doughnuts, which I take outside and eat on my front stoop in the sun.)
Most of us wouldn’t even think about blocking out 5 minutes for pleasure that early in the morning.
We’re too focused on getting up and getting ready and getting out the door. Efficiency matters: how much you can get done in how little time.
But maybe, just maybe, we’ve been sold a lie…
Pleasure is Your Birthright
We’ve been taught to be good girls, and be on time, and be productive, and not let temptation derail us from a morning run or a nutritious breakfast.
It’s almost like, if something is pleasurable, it’s suspect.
If it’s pleasurable, it can’t be GOOD for you.
Anything that gives your body pleasure MUSTs be naughty or indulgent or fattening.
But in fact…
Your body was programmed to experience pleasure. It’s a design FEATURE, not a flaw.
Mother Nature needed to motivate us to behave in life-affirming ways, so she built into us an internal reward system.
We get a boost of dopamine or endorphins or other happy chemicals when we behave in ways that ensure our survival and the survival of our species.
We are pleasure-seeking creatures NOT because we have a death wish, but because we have a LIFE wish.
When we turn our back on our pleasure because it’s “not good for us,” or it’s not “healthy,” or it’s “unnecessary,” we’re turning our backs on life.
A life without pleasure is drained of vitality and joy and richness. We become stressed, exhausted, even depressed.
In fact, one feature of depression is anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure.
Make Friends with Pleasure
So what I want to challenge you to do is to become good friends with your pleasure.
Start by noticing the pleasure response in your body.
My pleasure response tends to involve a sigh, my insides relaxing, and my eyes closing. What does your pleasure response feel like in your body?
Then ENJOY IT.
When you feel that way, stop and take a few moments. Close your eyes. Feel every sensation. Don’t feel guilty for blocking out the world and taking a private moment for yourself.
Finally, make space in your daily life for your pleasures.
Find at least one pleasure you can incorporate into your morning routine.
You could take a few minutes to slowly massage moisturizer into your skin. You could take a few minutes in the shower just to revel in the sensation of the hot water. You could take a few minutes after waking up to listen to the birds and luxuriate in the softness of your bed.
Notice that most of the things that give you pleasure are free or nearly free.
And they’re unique to you.
For me, going to bed early and having extra time to myself in the evening is so nice. It doesn’t matter if no one else would see that as pleasurable. I do, and that’s what matters.
Don’t let anyone convince you that your pleasures are wrong or inferior. If it evokes the pleasure response in your body, it’s EXACTLY what you need to be doing. 🙂
If you’re having a hard time making pleasure a habit, try my 4-week program in THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE.