Pleasure vs. Satisfaction

In 1997 I took a movement class who’s credo was the pleasure principle. The deal was if something felt good, keep doing it. If it was painful, make changes for more pleasure.  There was an added invitation to take what you learned in class and apply it to life.

As a long time “aerobics” teacher, I loved the idea of getting fit through pleasure and demolishing the idea of “no pain, no gain.”  I was also curious about this fitness thing I could apply to my life.

Years pass, I study, I choose pleasure – A LOT.

Guess what?   I weigh more than ever, I struggle financially, I’m barely able to organize my day and I’ve become a masterful procrastinator.  Additionally, I’ve been pretty depressed for a while.

Initially I “blamed” all these problems on Post Traumatic Stress from a few months I spent in a war zone – I’ve been deprived, I deserve pleasurable experiences, foods, things.

Next I blamed this condition on doing work I didn’t like and that didn’t bring me pleasure – My job sucks, let me engage in pleasurable mindless movies, TV, internet surfing

My friends perimenopause and menopause took their turns as scapegoat – My body’s going through second puberty, I’ll nap the days away.

Lately I’ve blamed everything on feeling purposeless – I have no reason to get up in the morning, think I’ll have some ice cream.

A few weeks ago, I made a list, got some uncomfortable, sometimes unpleasant shit done. To my surprise and delight I felt  satisfaction. I did this a few days in a row – if it works keep doin’ it – and, in one of my favorite “revelation” locations – the shower, I got it that satisfaction is waaaaaaay better for me than simply pleasure. That actually having some frustration and challenge made the accomplishment even more satisfying. I’ve know this my whole life, but conveniently forgot when I tried on this pleasure thing 17 years ago.

For many there is a real need to make choices for more pleasure.  I’m not denying or judging that.

For me, though, pursuing satisfaction feels like a healthier journey.

I can have a pleasurable bite of chocolate, or I can feel incredibly satisfied about 20 minutes on the elliptical. I can enjoy a favorite movie or I can feel great accomplishment in building, maintaining and regularly updating my own website. I can take pleasure in watching my dogs run and play in the backyard or I can beam in satisfaction that my dogs behave wherever we go from the training we’ve done every day.

For some of you maybe this is all basic life stuff or maybe pleasure and satisfaction are the same.  For me the difference feels revolutionary.  Today – second blog post since February – I feel a boat load of satisfaction.  While pleasure is yummy, I’d choose satisfaction every time.


big love and immensely satisfying hugs,

Please let me know how I might be of service.  My passions include plant based nutrition (especially busting the myth of how much protein we really need ;), MELT (live free from chronic pain without drugs), TRX (it’s helping become my own version of an American Ninja Warrior), reminding you of your awesomeness (you are, you know), the undisciplined girl’s guide to successful dog training (you just gotta play with purpose several times every day), books on CD (my “capped” mebomian glands make it difficult to read paper books these days), and connecting with optimists and optimist-wannabes.

I’d love to hear about your relationships with pleasure & satisfaction in the comments, via email or on FB.

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