Pleasure and How to Access It More Often

Written by Paul Wolf

What gives you pleasure? Is it a weekend getaway, a meal at a four-star restaurant, a shopping spree? 

If you think pleasure is dependant on generous vacation time or your ability to afford an expensive dinner, you're missing out on a wealth of everyday sensuality and joy, says Stella Resnick, Ph.D., author of The

Do you resist or embrace pleasure?
Develop pleasure skills by being open to the moment.  
Pleasure Zone

To live a life of maximum pleasure takes an attitude and feeling of openness to every moment, she says. Making the connection among mind, body and spirit is part of learning what she calls pleasure "skills." 

It's our moment-to-moment skills; how we breathe, think and hold ourselves  that allow us to experience pleasure," she says. 

"The grand irony is that most people, to varying degrees, hold themselves back from feeling as good as they can," writes Resnick. We live with the attitude: If it tastes or feels too good, it can't be good for us. Our society remains mired in Original Sin, mistrusting anything not associated with denial and hard work. 

Because we've never been taught to derive pleasure from ordinary life, we become "pleasure-resistant." Pleasure-resistance causes breathing so shallow you can't be inspired by life, and an attitude so hardened you can't be spontaneous. 

We routinely deprive ourselves of pleasure, and yet scientific evidence suggests pleasure is good for us, says Resnick. It releases endorphins, dilates blood vessels and boosts immunity. Just as chronic pain, particularly emotional pain, is a precursor to illness, pleasure may prove to be the most important ingredient of a long, healthy life. 

Pleasure is also good for the soul. It is at the heart of motivation. Anticipating the pleasure of accomplishment is what drives us to clear hurdles. 

Think of the songwriter who stays up all night getting the melody just right. When the song tops the charts, he says, "It just wrote itself." Intense pleasure takes the struggle out of life's challenges. 

When we embrace the splendors of the moment; a musical note, a touch, a kiss, we open ourselves to experiencing pleasure on a deeper level. "If you are not just chasing mindless indulgences, pleasure has a spiritual component, just as one's spiritual journey has a pleasure component," says Resnick. 

The commonplace pleasures of thinking and experimenting, giving and receiving, complimenting and appreciating, observing and savoring, kissing and making love should be practiced every day. 

If your life could benefit from more pleasure, start by giving yourself permission to experience it deeply and often, says Resnick. 

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