We have so many decisions to make in life.
Decisions about whether to stick with a bad job, whether to sign up for that course, whether to tell a loved one how you really feel.
Most of us don’t have a system for making those decisions.
Basically, all we do is think about it.
We think, and we ask other people what they think, and we think some more…
Until finally we convince ourselves that one course of action is better than the other.
How well does that work for us?
Is it true that the longer you think, the better decisions you make?
Or does overthinking shoot you in the foot?
Another way to make decisions is to go with your gut.
You go with your first instinct, trusting that your gut knows something you don’t.
And that works sometimes, too. But not always.
Think about the relationships we end up in because our gut tells us, “Yes!” when in fact we should have thought twice about it.
There is another way to make decisions.
And I believe it’s a BETTER way to make decisions.
It’s by using the Pleasure Principle.
Pleasure is Your Guide
The Pleasure Principle is a simple rule for life:
Go towards the things that bring you pleasure, instead of away from the things that bring you pain.
Sounds simple, but it is SO not the way we normally live our life.
Normally, we spend our time thinking of all the things that could go wrong. We try to avoid anything painful.
We motivate ourselves by saying mean things to ourselves about how fat we’re going to get if we don’t stay on this diet or how lazy we are if we’re not spending every minute of the day working.
That’s a REALLY uncomfortable way to live!
What would happen if instead you looked for the stuff that made you happy? The stuff that made you smile? And you moved towards that?
That’s the Pleasure Principle in a nutshell, but the Pleasure Principle is not just a cool idea.
It’s a practical tool for life.
You can use it to make decisions when you’re stumped about what to do.
Don’t Put the Cons Before the Pros
First things first:
Abandon those pro and con lists.
When you draw up a list of pros and cons, you’re putting equal weight on what you want AND what you don’t want.
If there are a lot of cons, you won’t choose something, even though it’s what you really want to do.
In life, there are a lot of things that are hard and difficult, but are so worth doing. There are a lot of things that look impossible, but are worth the attempt.
These things are worth doing because they bring us joy. They bring us meaning and satisfaction.
So don’t put your cons before your pros.
If something brings you pleasure, it’s worth the effort.
Will It Make You Happy?
But maybe you have done things in the past because you thought they’d feel good and you got yourself in trouble, and now you make a point to think about the consequences first.
Chances are, you were making this very common mistake.
If I tell you to move towards the things that bring you pleasure, you think you know what pleasure is. You know what would make you happy.
But do you?
Daniel Gilbert in his bestselling book Stumbling on Happiness makes it very clear that we have no clue what will make us happy. When we do something because we think it will bring us pleasure, we’re often wrong.
So I don’t recommend that you base your decisions on what you THINK will bring you the most pleasure. Your head isn’t the best guide.
Instead, look at what brings you pleasure right now in your body.
In my book, I define pleasure as a whole-body experience.
You’re not thinking, “Oh, this is nice.”
Rather, you’re feeling your whole body relax and sink into the experience.
Pleasure is a physical sensation of relaxation, safety, wellbeing, and ease.
That’s what you want to look for.
Now let’s put this into practice.
You’ve got a decision you need to make. How do you apply the Pleasure Principle?
Take a moment to breathe and center yourself, and then imagine that you have already made your decision. You’ve chosen one of the options. That’s what you’re doing.
See yourself making that choice, doing what you’ve chosen, and living out everything that unfolds as a result of that choice.
Now switch your attention from your imagination to your body.
Feel what’s going on in there. Feel what’s going on in your gut.
Do you feel a sense of expansion, like possibilities are opening up?
Do you feel a sense of warmth? Do you feel settled? Do you feel like you’ve just given a great big sigh?
That’s a green light.
But maybe your body doesn’t feel that way.
Maybe it feels like there’s a hard ball in your gut.
Maybe there’s some nerves, excitement, unsureness, dread.
That’s a warning light.
Either that’s not the right choice, or it’s not the right time to make this choice.
Go through this process with each of your options. Imagine yourself making that choice, living out the results of the choice, and then check in with your body.
You’ll find out pretty quickly that your body knows what it wants, even if your head disagrees.
You’re Still in Charge
Now, at the end of the day, you can make whatever choice you want.
You’re in charge of your life. You can overrule your gut instinct. You can go with other people’s advice. There are no rules to follow here.
But feeling into your body gives you extra information to make those decisions.
And often, that information is pretty good.
Does this interest you?
Would you like to learn the science behind the Pleasure Principle?
Would you like some more exercises and practices to put it to use in your love life?
Then you’re in luck, because I have a WHOLE BOOK about this.
It’s fun, it’s surprising, and it gives you a totally new framework to look at relationships and attraction and happiness.