Monday, July 11, 2011

Pleasure - 2 Ways to Enjoy

There are two ways to enjoy something pleasurable. Or perhaps it is better to say that there are two ways that we can find pleasure in our experiences.
First is by overloading the senses with an increasing amount of pleasure. For example, as a chocolate lover, you might be driven to consume the richest and tastiest samples or to consume great quantities. If you seek pleasure through overloading the senses, then you will eventually (and quickly) come to the end of your ability to increase your pleasure. From a scientific point of view you have used up all of the chemicals in the chemical receptors of your taste buds. This will result in you experiencing little to no flavour despite having more of your treat.

Second is by taking the time to appreciate the details. For example, chocolate can also be enjoyed in small quantities but with even more pleasure than through overdosing. Noticing the precise balance of flavour, smells, texture, how it changes the way blood flows around your mouth and the rest of your body (you can feel a surge of blood and chemicals of pleasure as it melts in your mouth if you observe yourself carefully). These things might reveal that your "special" brand is not really as nice as you thought and that it really only had more of the addictive sugar/sweet to fool you into thinking it was tastier.

These two methods can apply to the repetition that is required for learning a new skill. As you notice more detail in what you are learning you will find a greater appreciation and joy in improving. Simply doing something more often, or louder, or harder, will not necessarily increase enjoyment. Noticing more details and refining will yield much greater results for your personal pleasure in the long run.

Taking this a step or two further, we can:
  1. Notice how refined the most successful people are in the parts of their lives for which they are known. Some are known for excess, but these are not lasting successes. The longest lasting popular music, for example, is technically much better than the rest.
  2. When trying to eat less, during a period of weight-loss or for maintaining, we can eat slowly to savour the tastes of our meals and thus eat less to feel fulfilled.
  3. Consider the destructive excesses of our own lives and how they might have corrupted a form of pleasure which can be refined, e.g. food, alcohol, sexual addictions
  4. Seek out friends who are not exceedingly excessive in their personality in order to preserve your energy levels
What are some of the ways that you can reduce, or have reduced, harmful excess in your life? Is there a time and a place for excess?