For the past few days, I’ve been sleeping with my headphones on. As I was drifting into unconsciousness last night, the song Imprint of Pleasure by Tube & Berger blasted into my ears. Engaged in the relaxing beat, the only words in the whole song were “why does man give so much importance to pleasure?”
Stopping the song midway, I sat upright and went to my desk for a pen and paper. My mind went wild thinking about answers to this question.
When I looked up “pleasure,” descriptions such as “worldly or frivolous enjoyment, diversion, sensual gratification, and a source of enjoyment or delight” came up. I jotted down a few pleasurable activities that came to mind and why I did them.
- Went to eat lunch at Love Park in Philadelphia because I wanted a change of scenery from eating in the cafeteria every day.
- Stopped by the public library as a convenient excuse to talk to a young, attractive librarian for book recommendations.
- Watched When Harry Met Sally 3 times in a week because I’m not in a relationship and it made me feel better that I will someday meet the “special someone.”
- Talked to friends through social media for 10 hours in a week because I wanted to feel less lonely working alone.
I didn’t realize that I did these activities in the past two weeks until this deep introspection. All my actions fit perfectly into the descriptions of pleasure without question. Is there something wrong with me? Are my needs being unfulfilled? Why am I seeking this much pleasure? Did I waste too much time on such things?
I decided that I was going to rationally measure pleasure, instead of seeing it as a good or bad thing. I believe real pleasure gives you energy. I imagine it as horsepower to a car. If I eat or listen to something, how much energy do I get from it? If I love someone or something, how energized does it make me feel? If an activity doesn’t increase my energy, I won’t find it pleasurable.
After I finished lunch at Love Park, I felt energized because I was breaking out of a boring day-to-day routine and it felt great being outdoors. Talking to the attractive librarian was a great way for me to build my confidence and challenge my shyness, while benefiting from her advice on a shared interest.
Talking to friends online drains me because I spend hours trying to come up with topics of conversation and it breaks my concentration to work on more important things. Also watching a movie multiple times that doesn’t fix a problem I have leaves me with great dissatisfaction. The comfort I get from both activities from feeling less lonely I realized isn’t worth it for me.
I find that effort is required to experience pleasure fully. In The Winner Within, Pat Riley mentions “to succeed in the pursuit of pleasure, you have to focus on the pleasure and not on the effort.” Imagine a team of basketball players, dribbling a basketball up and down the court, pushing themselves to the limit. Do they notice the pain they’re feeling? No, because the pleasure of playing with the ball overwhelms their pain. Now, imagine asking them to run, jump, shoot and defend without the ball. How long do you think they could play for? Not long, because without the ball, there is nothing to distract them from their effort. Turn each effort into a pleasure with an end goal in mind.
By having a way to measure pleasure, I feel no regrets about putting importance on pleasure. I’m also going to find ways to focus on the pleasures of my work, instead of the effort and time it takes. I’m interested to see how you react to Imprint of Pleasure and if you feel you put too much importance on pleasure in your life.