The Healthy Pursuit of Pleasure
From our newsletter Emotional Wellness Matters,
(found on the newsletter) *This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037
Engaging in Simple Healthy Pleasures Can Restore Balance to our Hectic Lives
Pleasure guides us to better health. When experiences are enjoyable, we want more of them. Our bodies tell us that sleep, reproduction, eating, companionship, and exercise- to name just a few of our more common daily activities- are enjoyable. Our survival depends on engaging in these activities. The brain has several pleasure centers which are activated by chemicals which speed satisfying sensations from one nerve to the next. Children the world over, when they are left alone to do what they choose, engage in endless hours of play. They pursue fun. Childhood may be the time in life when our brains are trained to experience pleasure. If we accomplish this task well as children, we may have healthier lives as adults- as long as we don’t lose the ability to play that we acquired in childhood.
Think about what children do when they play. They lose themselves in the pleasure of the moment. We have all observed children at play. They glow with pleasure- they shout, smile, and move their bodies. Engrossed in their world of play, they are aware of neither the past nor the future. There is only the moment. As adults, we also need this ability to shift our awareness from rational and logical concerns to a level which is freer and centered on the moment. People who can shift appropriately between the “there and then” to the “here and now” are good at reality testing and adapting to the demands of the world. They can draw on both their thought processes and their ability to take effective action. What would happen if these behaviors were not pleasurable? Eating would disappear and sleep would vanish. We would no longer survive.
Balance is the key to understanding the role of having fun vs. meeting real-world obligations in our lives.