“Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.”
—Thomas Jefferson (Letter to Maria Cosway, October 1786)
Image from Unsplash by yu tang
Pleasure seeking and pain avoidance are two of the biggest drivers for most people.
Take a look for yourself at a typical day or maybe a full week to see just how true this may be for you.
Dig deep into your daily habits and rituals at home and work to explore your behaviors in the morning, mid-day, and into the evening. How do your habits and rituals differ heading into the weekend or even as you engage in the holidays and vacation time?
Generate a list of 5-10 behaviors or habits that have a considerable downside or hook beneath their initial pleasure. How would reducing or eliminating one or two make a meaningful difference in your life?
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
—J. Pierpont Morgan, 19th Century American Banker
Image from Unsplash by Brian Patrick Tagalog
Pain and pleasure are two of the greatest motivators to mobilize us all to take action. Whether it involves jerking our hand away from a hot stove or pursing our dreams, we get going pretty quickly.
For some reason, pain or negative life situations often win the battle over our desires, making less of an undesirable situation preferable to more of a good one.
Whatever your own experience may be on this issue, please look around at your personal and professional worlds to examine where staying where you are is completely unacceptable.
Decide today what first step you promise yourself to take to move away from the pain of being stuck where you are, to a better and perhaps more pleasurable future. Consider doing this exercise on a weekly basis and feel free to get back with me regarding your results.
“Tis not the meat, but tis the appetite makes eating a delight.”
—Sir John Suckling, 17th Century English Poet
Image from Unsplash by Dan Gold
What are your very favorite foods?
Take a minute and actually visualize a plate or perhaps a buffet of your favorites set before you. Is your mouth watering and your stomach growling a bit? Consider these questions from the perspective of having an empty stomach, or being stuffed following a feast such as Thanksgiving.
Of what importance is having an appetite to your levels of pleasure and delight? In what other areas of your life could this metaphor apply?
What areas of your life cause you to hunger and feel delight in them? Consider the areas of learning, travel, work, community, faith, relationships, family, and adventure.
What other meaty areas would add to your delight, when getting full isn’t an issue?
“True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by.”
Image from Unsplash by RawPixel
My wife Wendy’s “happy place” is the beach. She loves nothing more, except family and friends, than her time on a sandy ocean beach, looking for interesting and beautiful shells. Among her favorites are brightly colored or interestingly shaped mollusk shells, particularly if they are shaped like a heart or infinity symbol.
When she is not at the beach, she sets a wonderful example for me, my children, and others, by squeezing the most out of each precious day. It is not uncommon for her to alter the hours she sleeps, simply because she doesn’t want to miss any of the joy and sweetness life has to offer.
How and in what ways can you seek, discover, and savor more of the precious things around you to make more of each and every day?
“The test and use of man’s education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind.”
—Jacques Barzun, 20th Century French-American Historian
Image from Unsplash by Ben White
Perhaps nothing brings us more satisfaction on a daily basis than getting things done. Whether it is building something tangible, solving a challenging problem, or simply making a significant difference in the lives of others, we all need this fix to be pleased with ourselves.
It is likely our need to be useful and make a contribution to those around us that gives our lives meaning.
I have also noticed that most of my coaching clients enjoy exercising their minds, and find considerable enjoyment through continuous learning, which often leads to getting bigger and more significant things done.
Where and in what ways would greater exercise and stretching of your mind provide you the added pleasure of testing yourself, allowing you to get more done and making a bigger difference in your worlds?
“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”
—Pearl S. Buck, 20th Century American Novelist
Happiness is big business. Whether it’s that new home, new car, or new body we want – or even that deal on Amazon Prime – we are bombarded with what the world suggests will make us happy.
Deep down, we all know the temporary boost we experience with these “happiness events” quickly fade, and it is more often the simple pleasures that make our lives far more joyful.
Please consider sending me a list of 5-10 of your simple pleasures, and do your best to incorporate them into your days.
If you would like a bit of prompting, consider review Andrea Reiser’s Huffington Post article titled 101 Simple Pleasures to Boost Happiness.