Am I Allowed to Feel Pleasure?

August 29, 2020

How a serious commitment to pleasure can keep us sane during the pandemic.

During this pandemic I met with a growing number of clients who, for different kinds of reasons, experienced a sort of breakdown. Their coping mechanisms somehow failed, and they started looking for help.

Although each story is unique, one important common theme I found among them is that most deny themselves the right to feel good.

In the long run, conjugal feelings come, then a family, and then the perfect job. What comes tagging along is the concretization of these dreams that seem to scream for serious work. For some recreation, there is Netflix while we rest on the couch.

Committing oneself to pleasure becomes a crime that somehow negates the reality of hard work and the dreams they are trying to achieve.

Yet, COVID-19 arrived and with it many things had to change. Couples became stuck together in the space of their home for months, with or without children or their extended family. Others had to go through their quarantine alone. Where do we find the will to get up every morning and get dressed? How do we find the patience to tolerate the shortcomings of our partner? How do we get out of the anxious loop of thoughts that obsess us during these days?

Pleasure is the answer to all.

If we do not take pleasure seriously, our resentment for the people around who do not make us happy grows—or steals the opportunity from us to be so. If we do not take pleasure seriously, sooner or later we fall into a low mood. Low moods, sadness, frustration, melancholy, are a big trap that prevent us from achieving true joy in life.

Let’s Take Pleasure Seriously

“Pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting-point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge of every good thing.” As Epicurus wrote in his Letters to Menoeceus.

I saw people taking pride in denying themselves pleasure. They were proud of always being serious and somewhat miserable—as if God would reward them more for these feelings. They shared with me sad stories of how their fathers never played with them or how palatable the tension was at the dinner table every time they had a meal together.

I think that devoting time to pleasure is as difficult as working hard for the realization of your dearest project.

Nurturing your soul with what you like means to dedicate time to know yourself and what makes you happy, it means to listen to what you need, and pay attention to both the child and the adult in you. Finding what gives you pleasure means opening yourself to love. If you close that door for too long, you risk losing the ability to love yourself and accordingly the ability of loving the people around you.

It Costs Energy But It’s Worth It

As Lowen remarks, “Pleasure demands a serious attitude toward life, a commitment to one’s existence and work.” For us to feel pleasure, we need to open ourselves to life and its surprises.

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Soren Dreier – Services

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