red leaves

On Pleasure

Sometimes otherwise usual topics find themselves stuck in my head and I can’t release them until I’ve completely worked them out. One time a parent suggested to me that their child needed to ‘tolerate’ them the same way they (the parent) ‘tolerate’ the kid. I wasn’t sure why but the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I immediately went into defense mode for the kid. The rest of the week was spent searching for the better word he may have been looking for. (Turns out, it was “love.”) This happens all the time. The fixation. Words and things just present themselves over-and-over in my day-to-day and I think, “it’s a sign,” and work tirelessly to decipher them.

There was one of those days towards the end of last season and the word was Pleasure. It’s a ridiculous observation and inherent need, however, it was showing up everywhere and I couldn’t avoid it. Emails and conference calls, tweets and social media posts, and by the time the drive-thru attendant at my favorite fast food spot replied to my gratitude with, “My pleasure!” I knew it was time for a personal think tank.

If you ask any one of my closest friends what pleasure means to them you’ll get responses that range from the basic, “happy,” to the most deviant, “when your partner [does the thing they wanted] without asking.” And, no, they’re not talking about washing the dishes—though I am sure Urban Dictionary has an erotically appropriate definition. (TMI.) My definition carried a tone split fifty fifty and before I had google’d it, I was pretty sure the official definition would be equally so. Turns out, it’s not; if you ask good ol’ Merriam-Webster the definition of pleasure, it is “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.”

Less than scintillating to say the least.

Dissatisfied with my findings, I spent the better part of a day contemplating the very thought of it in an effort to redefine it for myself. Pleasure. I thought about where it comes from, how it’s conceived, what it does to us, how we nurture it and ensure it evolves into euphoria, its highest form.

The most pleasure, for me, is always received after I have done something good for another person or when there is confirmation and validation in the fact that my efforts — or even just my presence — have in some way helped move something alone. That said, pleasure is depleted whenever I feel I have been (or might be) taken advantage of, forced into doing something I typically wouldn’t do, or even blatantly ignored when serving at the request of another. (And, you’d be surprised how often that happens.)

There are even times we manifest our own pleasures. Uninterrupted time with my friends is high on the totem pole; a five-star moment, for sure. That strong cup of coffee (or two) at the start of a morning: Four stars. Getting away from the desk midday for that long-anticipated walk on a beautiful day or a meeting with the trainer: Five stars. Pushing that one hour midday break to two… or three: Four stars. (I retracted a star because of the regret afterwards.) Being able to help someone else out, wether I know them or not: Five, plus.

The point is, pleasure — by my definition — is the emotional and psychological (and sometimes physical) reciprocation of the energy you have put out, ten fold. On the spiritual and psychological level, which is all I was initially interested in, I believe our baseline of pleasure is constituted by how you view your life, the things you have done, and your personal satisfaction with the intent behind all of it.

I revert back to my philosophy in that when you know better you do better and when you do better you feel better, and it all starts with self awareness. More important than perfect vision is your internal vision; being able to fearlessly listen to the voice within us and trust in it for both guidance and growth.

Now, that’s pleasure.