There is pleasure and there is pain. There is black and there is white. There is good and there is bad. There is fun and there is boredom or worse, displeasure and misery. When we are born, we instinctively know pleasure and pain. It’s what keeps us safe from hot stoves and what bonds us to our loving parents. In a primal form, this dichotomy of positive and negative guides our basic behaviours throughout infancy. We eat to replace the displeasure of hunger with the pleasure of satiety. We crawl towards our parents to relieve the painful fear of separation. In childhood, when basic cognition begins, our decisions are based on the same pleasure and pain. We play with toys because it is fun and we stay away from scary people because it’s no fun being near them.
We orient our lives around pleasure….until we learn to use logic. Making logical decisions becomes such a well developed practice that, as adults, we never use our feelings to guide us. I’d argue that it is not that hard to bring feelings back into the decision making process. Just focus on how you feel about each option when making a decision. Summon up your pleasure and pain instinct and pursue the option that feels more pleasurable.
When was the last time you oriented your life around pleasure? I am sure you have made a few decisions here and there based on what would be most fun. But how do you think your life would feel if it were oriented around avoiding pain and seeking out pleasure?
I’ve been doing it for years. Sure I have to do the odd thing that isn’t that much fun, but for the most part, I don’t do anything that doesn’t feel like it will be fun. How’s my life? Pretty much stress free.