What comes to mind when you think about pleasure?
This word brings up many connotations.
Hedonism. Sex. Food. Making Money. Drugs. Music. Aesthetics. Beauty. Touch. Art. Playfulness. Laughter. Joy. Vacation. Jewelry. Fashion. Organization.
Shopping. Sauna and Spa. Wandering in Nature. Tropical Rainforests. Palm Trees on the Beach Shading You from the Sun. Snorkeling Amongst Coral Reefs and Colorful Fish. Adorning Yourself in Beautiful Objects.
Feeling Beautiful in Your Own Skin. Feeling Rich. Being Vibrant with Energy. Feeling Blissed Out. Realness. Femininity. Wild Unconscious.
I asked my Instagram followers what comes to mind when they think of pleasure:
Yet somewhere in the development of our 24/7, technological world, pleasure became unprofessional and taboo. Somehow, self-care became stigmatized as selfish and narcissistic, and self-sacrifice became the noble thing to do. Feeling good became a reality of privilege, and how dare you feel good when the world is filled with so much suffering.
It doesn't make much sense. Higher energy emotions create coherence in our brains, hearts, and guts and cause us to operate in flow, which allows us to access the ingenuity required to be of greater service in the world.
Where does this stigma around pleasure come from? Somewhere between immigrant parenting, public school, and the corporate world, many of us are so trained to toil at our desks and suppress our needs that we get this idea that we're not allowed to reward ourselves until we've achieved something monumental, forgetting the fact that our existence on this planet is no trivial matter.
We deserve to live our lives like they matter. It's our responsibility to choose pleasure over suffering.
We've been conditioned to turn a blind eye to the chasm that is separating us from our true selves.
Our modern healthcare system even pathologizes human emotions like grief, anger, and fear independent of context. The collective is still experiencing the grief of bereavement and social isolation caused by COVID. In her book "Own Your Self," psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan, bereavement lasting more than 2 weeks can be classified as major depresive disorder and put people on a road to taking antidepressants, according to DSM-5 definitions of MDD.
Rather than turning straight to medication, to address the mental health epidemic, we need to really listen and understand stress and trauma responses on energetic and epigenetic levels. For instance, the prevalence of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and addiction is high among grandchildren of people affected by World War 2 and the Holocaust. Instead of expressing our feelings, we learned to bottle them up, avoid difficult conversations, and numb our very normal responses to abnormal circumstances.
What would happen if we owned those emotions and shared our stories?
The scale of suppression, repression, and self-denial in American society is merely one manifestation of the mental health epidemics of depression, anxiety, addiction, and ADHD. Obsessive control over routines and diet is another way people cope with the stress of uncertainty, leading to OCD and eating disorders like orthorexia.
When we attempt to gain control over every facet of our lives through rote routine, restrictive dieting, and inner work, sometimes it crosses the line past self-mastery into denial of our inner child who just wants to live joyfully.
The underlying cause of our discontent? A disconnection from our true, unbounded selves.
As Sarah Blondin often says in her meditation teachings, "We are here to feel."
What would happen if we allowed ourselves to surrender to joy?
Pleasure is equal parts superficial and spiritual. Pleasure is not inherently satanic or designed exclusively to lead us astray. Chaos is not inherently bad, just as order is not inherently good.
Instead of demonizing pleasure, we need to rethink our relationship with pleasurable things and how we think about them.
Have you ever been so mind-numbingly addicted to something that it stopped feeling good? This is antithetical to pleasure.
Contrary to escapism, pleasure grounded in sobriety is an embodiment practice that increases our capacity to savor and be present with the spectrum and depth of feeling. It increases our emotional dimensionality and our feeling of being home in our bodies.
How do we return to the bliss of innocence? In other words, how do we remember why we're here and how to be human?
Feed your senses something delicious: beautiful spaces, cuisines, people, experiences, activities, scenes, art, music, water, sleep...
Take a moment to b r e a t h e and reset your nervous system.
Become aware of your posture, your orientation in space.
Detach from any emotion; let it pass by like a cloud.
Accept yourself unconditionally as you are right now. Release the expectations you have of yourself, including the expectation to produce something unique, groundbreaking, and Earth-shattering every time you birth a creation.
Give yourself time and space to rest. Rest can look like social media breaks, drifting from people that hold you back from evolving, taking a break from diet culture and giving your body and soul what it desperately wants and needs in order to recover and rebuild. Rest can look like gently settling into your subconscious and unconscious, those lower frequencies of deep healing, drifting underwater to the dream world.
Accept that your desires are constantly shifting and you will never eternally embody just one thing except God. You are an infinite being having a human experience.
Become aware of your burning desire.
Do whatever feels most alive to you right now.
Align with your most salient desire.
See your intense desire through to fruition.
Reward yourself for having completed the task to a degree commensurate with the accomplishment.
Practice pleasure. Continually make vows to fully immerse yourself in whatever you're doing.
Because the more deeply we enjoy and immerse in whatever we're doing, the more we become enraptured by being, the more lovely and magnetic our aura becomes and the more love flows our way.
How do you integrate pleasure into business?
By creating a business you're excited about, that nourishes your creative life.
By doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, setting your own hours.
By ceasing work on weekends, vacations, and holidays. Allowing yourself to rest.
By aligning with your core work values.
By posting at a frequency of your choice instead of resisting what you wanted all along.
By varying your environmental stimuli and enriching your senses--books, museums, travels, people, etc.
Developing a business model, offer structure, and price point that affords you energetic protection and reasonable boundaries and replenishes you spiritually, energetically, ethically, and financially.
Showing up at your best place to serve others.
Creating a business aligned with your PURPOSE.
Why should we integrate pleasure into business?
Because it's a human thing to do.
To beat burnout.
To augment our own life force.
To increase the aura of our business.
To improve client trust.
So we can do more good in the world.
Pleasure is NOT pushing your body to the point of physical and mental exhaustion.
Pleasure IS about learning to give and teaching to receive.
Invest in your future self.
However you train your subconscious through your action and decision-making is the way you're going to tend to think and the direction you're going to flow--you're literally carving pathways into the future through your present.
Having experiences that are new and opportunities to savor something that enriches your senses and causes you to grow is an investment into the mind you want to have in the future.
For we are never our past; when we align our present priorities with our future visions, we're able to create something amazing. We set our nervous systems back into harmony. We become actively responsive rather than passively reactive.
Pleasure can be highly pragmatic. It presses the save button and boosts efficiency, processing speed, and smart working. Somewhere between the flood of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, and the surge of electricity going up our spine, we remember our vacations so much more vividly than our everyday life. The same thing happens when we make a decision. You know that spark of electricity that ripples up your body when you make a decision and commit to making it happen. (When you know, you know).
Entrepreneurs are powerful change agents with the capacity to accelerate progress on this planet, with the added flexibility of being able to work anywhere in the world and devote their time to any venture of their choice.
The secret to pleasure in business is not the specific strategies and techniques you use but how you invest in and develop those divinely human, irreplaceable priorities in life: relationships, experiences, and health.
My question for you is… what does pleasure mean to you, and how are you integrating it into your business?