The Contradiction of Pleasure

Lately, I keep hearing the message, “Only do things that make you feel good.” Or, “center your life around feeling good.” That sounds great! Who doesn’t want to feel good? I want to feel good all the time, but I see some real dangers from following that philosophy and giving into every desire that I have.

First of all, I’m an addict in recovery so for me, I’m the extreme example of doing whatever I could to feel good. I used to binge on food to the point of discomfort because once the pleasure switch got flipped, I couldn’t stop. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not – I would keep eating the cookies because they tasted good. That’s part of the problem with the philosophy, “Only do things that make you feel good,” – there is no foresight. If all I can think about in the moment is how good the cookies taste, I’m not thinking in the future I’ll feel sick or have a stomachache. I’m only thinking about the present moment and enjoying it.

Mmmm. Looks good. But I'm allergic to almonds so eating this would be a bad idea no matter how pleasurable in the moment.

Mmmm. Looks good. But I’m allergic to almonds so eating this would be a bad idea no matter how pleasurable in the moment.

How often do we do this? Pursue something because it gives us pleasure and then suffer afterward? I still do this. There are so many foods I’m allergic to but I’ll still eat them sometimes because they taste good. I’m starting to realize, eating them is not worth it. Suffering for hours afterward is not worth the momentary pleasure I derive from eating a piece of pizza.

That’s the thing really about only doing what feels pleasurable, of chasing after desire. It’s temporary and fleeting. There is no lasting and permanent peace or happiness. There is no lasting satiation. That’s why I can’t abide by the “do it if it feels good” philosophy. Not only because I’ll only feel good for a second, but doing what feels good has consequences that more often than not leave me feeling crappy, especially if I haven’t thought my decision through.

I also find the “do it if it feels good” philosophy is rather selfish. I think about the blogpost I wrote back in August, “You plus me equals we,” where I spoke about the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion. That to me is a classic example of “do it if it feels good.” The dentist didn’t think about the consequences of killing Cecil, didn’t think about anything really, except satisfying his own desires. As a result, he caused an international uproar and destroyed his own business in the process as people chose to boycott him due to his actions.

Chasing after one desire and then another all the time only causes temporary relief from pain. Guys, I don’t want temporary relief, I want permanent relief. I want the ultimate good feeling, and I hate to say it, but it comes from practicing restraint and moderation. From using my brain, from thinking about the consequences of my actions, and also from attaching myself to the source of infinite happiness. Permanent happiness comes from meditating on the divine, to seeing everything as an expression of God, and keeping Source at the forefront of my mind. For an addict in recovery like me, it’s the only way I’ll achieve the fix I’m looking for.

I dream of a world where we remember there are consequences for our actions. A world where we don’t chase one desire after another because we realize we’ll never find the satisfaction that we seek. A world where we realize there’s only one way to feel good all the time, and that’s to ensconce ourselves in the divine.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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