Pleasure is defined as “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.”
When it comes to living well, what gives you pleasure? Is it feeling good, having energy, being connected to people and things you care about? I’m guessing these are the things that give most of us pleasure.
The thing is, none of these things comes automatically – you have to put effort into each and every one to be successful and to derive pleasure from them.
I was recently talking with a client about pleasure. She is wanting to lose weight and sleep better. But she also knows she is an emotional eater and finds she calms down when she eats sweets. Sound familiar?
It’s a problem for many of us, for many reasons. As a child, you may have been given a sweet when you fell off our tricycle or woke up cranky from a nap. The association between pain and immediate relief stuck.
You may notice when you eat a sweet that you feel better in the moment. Sweets are insidious, because they hit the pleasure center in the brain and you feel better. For a moment, you experience pleasure.
But then reality hits. The problem you stressed over isn’t solved. And you criticize yourself for failing to support the goal of weight loss or simple overall wellness. “What was I thinking?” you might say. “Why did I distract myself when I could have taken action that would result in a more lasting kind of pleasure?”
Long-term pleasure is the feeling you experience when you keep your eye and your actions focused on the long-term goal. You have those moments when the urge arises to go for the momentary pleasure, but you’ve developed techniques to remind you of your higher goal.
To guide you toward more reliable and satisfactory outcomes, you may want to design a mantra…
“I know what I want long-term,” or “This momentary pleasure won’t solve my problem”
… or you may distract yourself with a positive action like taking a walk, doing a yoga stretch or talking to someone.
The idea is to recognize the momentary pleasure you get from over-indulging will only distract you, and possibly cause harm. It will prevent you from attaining the pleasure you can get from your long-term goals of feeling good, weighting less, having more energy, etc.
As soon as you recognize temptation, pause and think – in this moment, do I want the immediate pleasure I’ll get from this bowl of ice cream or cheese pizza, or can I breathe through the feelings and remind myself of how good I’ll feel when I’m a better weight, have more energy, etc.
None of us is always successful in this way, but when you can be successful most of the time, you will be very proud of yourself.
What are you doing to get in shape these days? Are you happy with your health and physical capabilities? Why or why not? Have you personally lost weight after 60? Please join the conversation.