It is an innately human characteristic to seek pleasure – a natural drive that has shaped our evolution and survival. As much as we yearn for success and accomplishment, the pursuit of pleasure plays a fundamental role in our lives. However, the key lies in understanding and managing this pursuit in a balanced, healthy manner.

Pleasure exists in myriad forms, like savouring a favourite dish, enjoying a book, or laughing with friends.  To more complex pleasures derived from achieving life goals or fulfilling dreams.

It’s an essential component of our well-being, stimulating the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, chemicals that create feelings of happiness and reduce stress.

However, seeking pleasure can become a slippery slope if not balanced with other aspects of life. Pursuing only immediate gratification—known as hedonism—can lead to neglect of long-term well-being and responsibilities. This is particularly evident in scenarios of substance abuse or excessive indulgence in materialistic pleasure.

To foster a balanced pursuit of pleasure, we need to appreciate both hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. Hedonic happiness comes from experiences that give us immediate joy, while eudaimonic happiness is derived from actions that are meaningful and fulfilling on a deeper level, even if they involve struggle or discomfort.

Here are a few principles to guide a balanced pursuit of pleasure:

1. Mindfulness
Often, we find ourselves chasing future pleasures while overlooking the ones present right now. By practicing mindfulness, we learn to be present in the moment, cherishing the joys we encounter daily. Just feeling the chair under you is mindfulness… present right now. Stopping in the moment you are in and taking a deep breath, feeling your chest and lungs expand can be a source of pleasure. As I write I am sitting in our office kitchen listening to the traffic go by, using our sensory experiences in an intentional way can bring forward micro moments of little pleasures.

2. Balance
Health, relationships, career, and personal growth are all critical areas of life. It’s essential to seek pleasure in each of these areas and maintain a balance, as neglecting one for the other can lead to long-term dissatisfaction. I like to remind myself the the universe is in natural balance, the tide goes in and the tide goes out. In and out….in and out…..hold on and let go, hold on and let go. Try using your body to explore balance, stand on one foot, play with balance in an intentional way and then observe your relationship with it. Notice if your resistance comes forward.

3. Sustainable Pleasure
Choose forms of pleasure that are sustainable and beneficial for your long-term wellbeing. For instance, physical activity, healthy food, nurturing relationships, and hobbies are sources of joy that also contribute to your overall health and happiness. I love to draw, write and make silly videos of myself on snapchat.

4. Personal Growth
Seek pleasure in personal growth and learning. This form of pleasure—often linked with overcoming challenges—leads to eudaimonic happiness, boosting self-esteem and fostering resilience. I like to find my limits and then push myself just beyond them so I know that I can continue to grow.

5. Gratitude
Make it a habit to reflect on the things you are grateful for. This cultivates an attitude of appreciating the pleasures you already have, fostering overall wellbeing. You can often hear me saying, “I am so privileged”, this is one way I remind myself to be grateful for all that I am and all that surrounds me.

In conclusion, seeking pleasure is not only natural but also essential for our mental and emotional health. But, like all things in life, it requires balance.

When understanding and embracing both hedonic and eudaimonic forms of happiness, we can pursue a fulfilling and joyful life.

Tracy Miles


Registered Psychotherapist, Author

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