My relationship with pleasure is… complicated.
I get that pleasure is restorative – an important health and wellness practice – and yet I struggle to make time for it. Pretty sure I’m not alone. We live in a world that values productivity and achievement over pleasure. And this paradigm keeps us enslaved. Operating at low frequencies, unable to hear the still small voice inside, and to stand in our power.
I’m not about that. Or at least really trying not to be…
Nope. I’m on a heroic mission to re-frame and expand pleasure in my life and here’s what I’m working with…
I lean into the science
I personally find it helpful to know the scientific basis for pleasure as a health and wellness practice. I won’t bore you with the details but the short-and-dirty is that stress is normalized these days with devastating impacts on our overall well being and quality of life, and pleasure has a positive and healing impact on our nervous system and can offset the crap that our stressful lifestyles create.
I examine my personal narratives around pleasure
Those values I grew up with were great and all, but martyrdom and stoicism just wasn’t working out for me. I spent years in survival mode with little by way of fulfillment or inspiration and when enough was enough, I started crafting new narratives – ones that disentangled my worth from my contributions and positioned my pleasure as valuable to my family’s well being. With each new narrative, I’m loosening the grip of old scripts and opening to pleasure a little more. It’s ongoing work, but so worthwhile.
I get clear on the difference between pleasure and addiction
I used to seek out pleasure in all the wrong ways – think Netflix or junk food. I still do sometimes, but now I know that these are maladaptive and create some harmful longer-term impacts. I’ve become more discerning about pleasure, and seek out more life-enhancing experiences like tasty but healthy food, stillness, connection, and time in nature.
I work on broadening my pleasure palette
I’ve been intentional about procuring new and different “flavours” of pleasure and being sure to seek out, not just physical but emotional, spiritual, sexual pleasure, or a combination of these. That way, pleasure becomes a choose-your-own-adventure and it so much richer and more fulfilling.
I expand my awareness of pleasure
I pay more attention to pleasure’s role in my life, and in doing so I attract more of it. One simple but powerful practice I’ve adopted is to assess how much pleasure I’m feeling on a scale of 1 to 10 at certain moments – usually in transitions. If I’m anything but a 10, I look to move the needle a little closer. This usually only requires some small, and very reasonable, adjustment.
I also build pleasure awareness using a short journaling practice where I reflect and write on things I appreciate about myself and my life. It’s useful too, to see my patterns and find ways to broaden my pleasure palette.
Bring on the pleasure!!!
Your turn! How are you elevating pleasure in your life? A good start is to examine your relationship with pleasure, notice the places of resistance to it and meet those places with compassion and patience. Maybe even try on some of these strategies or come up with some of your own.
And of course, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!