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Previous: The Big Four




 Pleasure is the best place to start when talking about emotions. Its the one we all (think we) want - don't we all just want to be happy? - and it is safe to explore Pleasure as long as we don't act on it straight away. Yet we seem to know very little about pleasure - which is very strange! For some reason the idea of pleasing ourselves is very selfish. We think that our job is to please others, and that they should please us! 

But is pleasure? It is usually defined in a dictionary as "gratification of the senses" although this doesn't really make sense. Is it all just to do with sex? Is it feeling good? - although as we have said that would make the others "bad". Is it to do with what we like, what brings a smile to our faces, or just makes us feel happy? It is actually so hard to define - but not impossible to find a way to "feel" it. That is something we have to practise. We have to practise "liking" - to "like" is a verb, a doing word. Not a noun, something we can hold, have or possess. We cannot "have" a like - even though we talk this way. Its just running - we are either running or not running - having a run or had a run.

As we grow up, we need others to please us and provide for us, as we are not capable of doing this ourselves. We need to rely on this and feel secure that our needs will be met to allow us to move out and explore our world and and learn new things. And we need this security to trust in ourselves and develop a sense of ourselves - this I believe is the source of our childhood pride. Other provide and believe in us, so that we can believe in ourselves, and learn we need to please others back in return. We rely on this pleasure coming in, and come to expect it, often becoming upset when it doesn't come. Pleasure feeds this childhood sense of self, but seem to be unaware of it. As it grows, we develop a confidence that exceeds our abilities in a seemingly magical way, as is so evident in the imagination of children. But we develop an expectation that we deserve or we are even entitled to others pleasing us, making us the one who is right, leading us to think we may be perfect.

This is all very good when we are children - and may even need  to be necessary to have a healthy sense of self - but this is not very helpful as adults. But this pride is very fragile. If we expect someone to please us, this gives them a power over us so all they have to do is to not please us and we are stuck. We become disappointed and hurt - expectation leads to disappointment, thats no real surprise. But as I said, we seem to be unaware of it all. In some way I think this is the underlying message of Buddhism - which they translate as desire and suffering.

We want to hide this hurt. We may become angry at others to get our pleasure from them, or blame others. We may blame and punish ourselves, hurting ourselves to cover the underlying hurt from our fragile pride. But at least we are aware of why we are hurting. Or we may become scared by it all and run away and hide - avoidance and procrastination which are so common in our defence against ourselves. But none of these actually work to get us any pleasure, or solve the problem of the disappointment from our hurt pride - so our batteries quickly run flat.

This then is the problem of pleasure and pride - a web many find hard to solve, but one antidote is to actually learn to please ourselves - and then we can learn to share the pleasure without being desperate.


Pleasure Spectrum
•The most dangerous emotion by seeking pleasure without effort ?
•Instinct to demand instant gratification
•Range from comfort to ecstasy.
•Need to put off pleasure into reward / goal, pick it up and move on
•Barriers are both pride, guilt and blame


Next: Pain

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