When you think of pleasure, what comes to mind? Here’s what I think of:
- Tasting a delicious dessert
- Taking a deep breath of fresh air right after it rains; ohh that smell
- Having someone wash my hair for me
- The sun on my skin on an unexpectedly warm day
- Hot sex: wet, warm, and intense, with all the possible textures and flavors
The possibilities for pleasure are endless. Pleasure can be soooooo many things in so many moments, and it’s different for each of us. However, if we can bring our attention to this present moment, there’s probably pleasure right here, right now.
For me, the softness and warmth of this blanket on my bare legs, the quiet and stillness of this dark room after a loud, playful, and exciting day, the release in my body after my last deep, full breath – so much pleasure, right here, that I could easily miss as I focus on writing.
Pleasure is here, and when we take time to notice it, to fully experience the way it weaves through each moment, we experience a change in our bodies: physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically. We begin to open to life, to this moment. We enter into creative flow, as we experience the dance of desire and fulfillment, and we begin to sense what it might feel like to move as fully embodied creatures of nature – present, purposeful, and powerful. We enter flow.
A deeply satisfied, pleasure-spoiled person moves differently – there’s a peace, a silent confidence, a deep satisfaction. Highly pleasurized people don’t feel such a sense of urgency over the daily things to do. They prioritize connection, purpose, and creative flow. Pleasure helps them connect to the deeper more authentic parts of themselves, the parts that aren’t afraid, the parts that know they’re loved and cared for. Have you ever felt this before? I have felt it, and I have seen it in others. Pleasure is medicine. And it’s here for the taking.
But how many of us are really capitalizing on the ever-present gift of pleasure?
Some of you might say, “Well, Kim, I have things to do. I can’t just walk around focused on pleasure. Life isn’t all pleasure. Plenty of my day is downright hard, stressful, and even painful.”
And you’re right. This isn’t about bypassing what’s hard by “focusing” on pleasure all the time, at the expense of everything we need to get done. But this IS about one very real and transformative fact: in all the moments, challenging or otherwise, if we allow ourselves for even half of a breath to intentionally notice what just so happens to feel nice, good, pleasant, lovely, or amazingly delicious (often in the midst of what might be a mindless wading through daily monotonous drudgery), something magical happens:
We shift. We breathe. We release tension. We feel. We come back into our bodies. We reconnect with ourselves right here where we are. And if we commit to doing this as a practice, as a recurring and eventually ongoing ability to notice and enjoy the pleasure available to us now, we transform how we experience life and we energetically lean in the direction of what we actually want, love, and enjoy. As they say, what you give your attention to will grow. In this case, we’re giving our attention to feeling amazing in the ways that we can right this instant and benefitting from how our bodies support us physically, mentally, and spiritually when we do that.
Really, Kim? Noticing and enjoying the warm sunlight cast across my desk right now and pausing to enjoy it is supposed to be life-changing?
In short, YES.
Let me ask you: In what ways does your current life resemble what you actually want?
In what ways would you like for it to change?
What would you like to feel more of? To feel less of?
Most of us can easily point out the parts of life that don’t resemble our deepest desires. We are VERY in tune with the things we feel throughout the day that we DO NOT like. How do you think THAT affects the way we feel and show up at this moment? According to my clients, this chronic dissatisfaction we experience from moment to moment typically comes from a deep desire to feel more connection, purpose, and fulfillment in our day-to-day interactions and careers. But what if all of that is already here, and we miss it? Or, if it’s not here, what if we could cultivate the capability to generate connection, purpose, and fulfillment for ourselves, instead of waiting for it to happen to us?
I’m here today to tell you that the gifts of highly pleasured people, the ones that come alive in us as a result of prioritizing pleasure – a lasting peace, a silent confidence, a deep satisfaction, a sense of connection and purpose, feeling in flow, being true to ourselves knowing that we are loved and cared for – are the ones that position and empower us to shift our lives in the direction of our desires.
Let us consider:
Most of us think of pleasure as a self-indulgent treat reserved for the few and far between moments after we complete the daily obligations that consume most of our energy and time (except, they are never complete). Between working, chores, and parenting, we are stressed to the max. And if we’re really working on this whole self-care thing, that just means MORE to do: add in meal prep, gym time, meditation, and mayyyyybe a candle-lit hot bath. Maybe we indulge in a massage here and there, but only if something hurts. Perhaps we try to schedule in some solo or partnered sexy time for a quick release and a hit of happy hormones, but even then, these feel like things we’ve either had to earn or some kind of duty we attend to before our next bout of grinding away at all the “more important” things. We might even just be “checking the box” with sex, which doesn’t exactly get anyone’s juices flowing. And none of these legitimate attempts to just feel good for a minute come without guilt, because, well, really? What is this? Vacation? That laundry ain’t gonna fold itself.
Sheesh. I felt depressed just writing that.
The truth is, pleasure is here, and we don’t pause to notice it. And more pleasure is possible, but we aren’t prioritizing it. And by putting pleasure at the bottom of the list, we get more things done, but they are things we don’t love. And we’re missing out on all the juicy, healing, empowering, and passion-inspiring benefits that pleasure brings to the table, the very benefits that help us create lives that feel delicious instead of dragging. Instead of flowing with passion, love, and purpose, we are grinding with frustration, anxiety, and fatigue.
How’s that working for you?
If we want to thrive as creative, connected, purpose and passion-driven people who embody authenticity, awareness, strength, resilience, and love – we must give pleasure a seat at the grown-up table. In fact, we must make her the centerpiece. Because when pleasure is at the center, it shifts how we show up in the world. We get in touch with our true hearts’ longing, we breathe new life into our relationships, and we begin to honor the true nature of our truer selves, which, in turn, makes us of great, impactful service to the world around us in a way that we enjoy. Finally.
So how? How do I begin to prioritize pleasure to receive all those juicy life-changing benefits? Well, we start from the beginning. We start where we are and do what we can.
Here are three practices to help you intentionally prioritize pleasure as a conscious practice:
- Make a List.
Take a moment to list 50+ activities that would feel pleasurable to you – any kind of pleasure, regardless of whether it would last for a moment or several. Brainstorming the possibilities can remind you of all the beautiful things you enjoy and possibly shed light on some that you haven’t made space for but actually deeply desire. Examples might include playing with the dog, walking in nature, sharing dessert with your best friend, sex/masturbation, dancing, and the possibilities are endless.
- Schedule a Meeting.
Take a look at your schedule and figure out one block of time each week that you are willing to sit down with Dr. Pleasure for a meeting. During this time, plan to do one of the activities on your list of pleasurable things. You can schedule more or less than one meeting per week to start, for 5 minutes or 50 minutes, but the idea is to create a habit of intentionally adding pleasure to your life. Only commit to what you are 100% positive you are willing to do and honor the meeting the same way you would if the meeting was for a life-saving surgery. Prioritize it, even if it feels like something small. The goal here is to eventually feel totally comfortable scheduling plenty of time for entering the pleasure zone and to even look forward to it.
- Set an Alarm.
To support pleasure as a daily practice and priority, schedule a time to pause and find pleasure in the moment. Set a phone alarm for any time in your day. It doesn’t matter what you will be doing at that moment. Whether you’re in a meeting, at the gym, or making dinner, when the alarm goes off, you just turn it off and take a deep breath right where you are. No one has to know. This can be a private moment just for you. Is there anything in this moment that feels really good? Maybe it’s that breath you just took, and that’s okay. Feel free to take another. Maybe it’s the coolness of the floor under your feet. Maybe you slide one hand down the tight spot on the left side of our neck and create the pleasure spontaneously. Maybe you hear the wind chimes on the porch like I do right now, and you enjoy it. It could be anything. The point is that scheduling a time to notice pleasure is the precursor to noticing the pleasure that is already in your life more regularly, which opens you up to seeing, creating, and experiencing more of what you desire.