(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!)
This week’s journal questions are designed to help you own your
P L E A S U R E.
The ancient Greeks had a philosophy of pleasure, hedonism, which taught people to maximize the amount of pleasure in their lives. What constitutes a pleasurable activity depends on each person, but pleasure is always associated with the positive emotions of joy, well-being, desire, liking, or enjoyment. In other words, pleasure is about feeling good.
Why is pleasure important to you?
Pleasure is important for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Pleasure-seeking is part of our biological evolution. The inability to feel pleasure can sometimes be classed as a mental disorder called anhedonia.
Not being able to experience pleasure is not usually an illness. Sometimes it’s simply a result of being out of touch with knowing what gives you pleasure, or you may be repressed as a result of socialization.
Women are socialized to believe that pleasure is immoral. Think about the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden – her desire for pleasure corrupted man. The teaching is that female pleasure-seeking is wrong because it destabilizes society.
Men are socialized to believe that they shouldn’t act on urges. Men are socialized to be disciplined. The teaching is that self-sacrifice in honor of a socially-acceptable goal (career, family, fitness) is morally superior to experiencing pleasure.
I disagree with both these teachings. Pleasure is good and good for you when it is chosen wisely.
This Week’s Journal Questions:
8. Make a list of at least six activities that give you pleasure.
9. Categorize your pleasures. Which pleasures rely on the body? Which pleasures rely on the mind/brain/intellect?
10. Categorize your pleasures. Which pleasures are short, measured in seconds or minutes? Which pleasures last longer, measured in hours or days?
11. Categorize your pleasures: Which pleasures are best to do alone and which are better with friends?
12. Is pleasure important to you? Do you try to do pleasurable activities everyday?
13. Do you feel (or have you ever felt) guilty after experiencing pleasure? Describe your feelings in pleasure and guilt (Tip: imagine you had to describe these thoughts and feelings to a robot who couldn’t have them).
14. Describe in detail a pleasurable normal day from waking up to sleep. (How would you affirm your pleasure by adding even just a little more of it into your day? What simple changes can you make to activities that would make them more pleasurable?)
How to Get the most out of Know Thyself 2019:
Don’t rush through the questions. Try to do only one question every morning, leaving space to add thoughts that might come up later during the day. The journal is designed to help you develop a consistent, daily practice of self-reflection which will help you more than doing 10 questions in one day, then none for a month. Subscribe by email to have the weekly questions delivered to your inbox!