Your Better Self > Our Primal Quests > Practical Aspects > Pleasure in Practice

Seeking Pleasure: RH'L1 in Practice

Up-Side

Happiness here is simple and direct pleasure. But pleasure-seeking, for those on the Quest, is not just about feelings: it is a philosophy, a hedonistic approach to life. The aim is to experience sensations and emotions that are immediately pleasurable and do not depend on thought. Thinking is reserved for ensuring there is a flow of pleasure and for dreaming up new ways of experiencing pleasure.

And why not? Well, even given the up-side, it's not as easy as it seems. The intrinsic demands of the Quest can generate severe financial, practical and interpersonal costs.

ClosedExample  

ClosedFreud & Pleasure

Social factors are relevant. There is a preference for experiencing pleasure in company. Enjoyment is infectious and mutual reinforcement intensifies the feelings of pleasure. Sometimes it is a small group at home or in a cafe, sometimes a larger group on a tour, sometimes a large crowd e.g. at pop concerts, football matches, bull-fights.

The intrinsic challenge and typical means for pleasure are more problematic than in other Quests. So, for this Quest only, I have placed them in the «down-side» section.

Down-Side

The intrinsic challenge in a life built around pleasure is the presence of suffering. Quite apart from accidents or inborn defects, everyone's life must sooner or later confront: illness, loss, ageing & eventual death. As Buddha noted, these are not much fun—and this basic Primal Quest has nothing to say about what should be thought or done. There is only the general guideline: avoid unpleasant states. This fosters self-deception and denial, potentially of delusionary proportions.

The typical means used by pleasure-seekers involve getting the environment to comply with their preferred pleasures, while keeping undesired feelings and sensations at bay. Control of the environment to ensure it conforms with personal wishes usually costs money. Guaranteeing such control is what the vacation/tourism/hospitality industry is mostly about.

On a daily basis, control can lead to coercion, psychological or physical, that ignores the well-being of others. However, most people do not like to be angry or hurtful while enjoying their pleasures. So controlling others can be self-defeating if it generates distressing states around the pleasure-seeker.

The end result, and the inherent problem for pleasure-seekers, is that the best solution is to develop a comfort-zone—socially, geographically, occupationally—and to stick within it. The Questor develops rationalizations for not venturing outside the zone, to avoid any feelings of weakness, rigidity or timidity which would disturb their self-satisfaction and self-esteem.

The necessity to actively search out pleasure, which is at the core of the Quest, produces a characteristic natural temptation for ever more gratification. Unfortunately, a life of pleasure can take the pleasure out of life.
Why?Closed Because life has a serious side whose neglect has serious repercussions.

When the search for pleasure becomes excessive, then side effects develop. Giving in to pleasure-seeking dissipates strengths: e.g. it can rapidly lead to wasting time, not saving money for emergencies, harming health, and weakening social supports. At the extreme, a down-hill slide leads to illness, crime or early death.

Unhappiness, i.e. negative states, are also common but less dangerous. A life seeking pleasure is never unmitigated gratification, even in the absence of accidents, serious illness or misfortune. There are periods of misery and of boredom. At those times, nothing seems to give pleasure anymore. But there is the challenge: the Questor must not sink into self-pity or apathy, but rather shake themself out of that state by actively focusing on desires and finding some new source of gratification.


Originally posted: 29-Jun-2012




All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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