The Principles of Pleasure

 Posted by on November 28, 2010
Nov 282010

By Leah Shapiro

What‘s your relationship with pleasure and feeling good?

Do you worry that too much pleasure leads to over-indulgence? Do you embrace pleasure whole-heartedly, looking for every opportunity to bask in juicy, good feelings, or do you reserve it as a reward that has to be earned and monitored so it doesn’t get out of hand?

At its essence, the word pleasure means “a feeling of happiness, delight and satisfaction,” which is a large part of a Kick-Ass Life. In my job as a Kick-Ass Life Coach, I am constantly working with my clients to help them make their lives more Kick-Ass, and their relationship with pleasure is often a key component in how successful they are. This is an important relationship to understand, and it greatly influences your ability to create a life full of meaning, happiness, and satisfaction.

People regard pleasure in so many different ways.

Some folks think of pleasure as being self-indulgent, while others view it as a reward for hard work. Still others think that pursuit of pleasure is sinful or a waste of time. Let’s not forget the people who feel that they have to earn pleasure and be worthy of feeling good. Some people believe that pleasure is something to be doled out and controlled. God forbid you have too much!

On the other side of the spectrum, you have those who are self-declared Hedonists who believe that the pursuit of pleasure is an important one.

Where do your thoughts on pleasure fall in all this?

If you are someone who embraces pleasure and basks in it every chance you get, I suspect that you are already living a very Kick-Ass Life. If you are someone who reserves pleasure for a reward, I imagine that you find yourself working very hard and feeling like your life is just not measuring up.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether or not pleasure is a good thing. I think that this is happening for a number of reasons. I think that this is happening for a number of reasons, but the biggest contributing factor is that people buy into pre-packaged beliefs without being mindful of their actual wants and needs

Pleasure has gotten a bad rap in many religions. We are taught that suffering and struggling is ‘good’ and that pleasure and feeling good—especially in a sensual manner—is ‘sinful’. These ideas are woven into society’s thoughts regarding the ‘right ways’ to live, and this conditioning runs deep for many people.

When you buy into this story, you feel bad for feeling good. The things that bring you pleasure are considered rewards or something to be monitored closely. They are indulgent and sinful. You end up feeling bad about liking sex, or enjoying chocolate, and restrict your access to it. If you do give into your desire for this thing that you like, you feel guilty and ashamed because you can’t control yourself. It’s an endless cycle of feeling bad for your desire for something that feels good.

This is all so backwards!

I come from the perspective that feeling pleasure indicates that you are resonating with something and are in alignment with who you are. It is an indication that you are on the right path to fully realizing YOU. What could be more honorable than that?

I also find that many folks get caught up in the idea that they have to earn pleasure. They think that they have to do something in order to be worthy of it. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first to reward myself for a job well done, but I do it more as a celebration as opposed to my having to earn it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: you deserve pleasure. You are worthy of feeling good just because you are alive. It is part of what makes being human so delightful. Our bodies are designed to feel all kinds of things and pleasure is one of them. It’s OK to seek it out and desire it. Matter of fact, it is better than OK, it is desirable! Your good feelings are an indication that you are in alignment with who you really are. The more that you exist in this place, the more Kick-Ass your life will be.

I assure you, the fastest way to a satisfying and meaningful life is to learn how to tune into what feels good to you and brings you pleasure, and to feel comfortable basking in it. A great place to start is to begin to examine your beliefs around pleasure and question the ones that say feeling good should not be your priority. Give yourself permission to feel good! Start looking for things that bring you delight and feel good to you, and allow yourself to truly enjoy them. Bask in the juicy, good feelings. Ditch the guilt and shame and see what happens!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

  One Response to “The Principles of Pleasure”

  1. We are doing a series of 4 calls about owning pleasure and making a commitment to feeling good in your life on my radio show- My Kick-Ass Dream Life. You can listen to the calls and get in on the conversation here: