Pleasure should be the spice of life, not the main course

Ironically this is the way to live the most pleasurable life

If we’re not religious, the best meaning for life we can often think of is happiness. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, but what is usually wrong is our approach. We tend to equate fleeting pleasure with happiness. We remember how it felt to eat the hamburger, buy the new gadget, and be admired. Therefore we dedicate our lives to pursuing more of those pleasures so that one day we’ll reach a point of constant pleasure—as if there was a tipping point.

The problem here is two-fold. Firstly, pleasure is ever fleeting. It’s a constant chase, and there is no threshold to permanent pleasure. On the contrary, the initially powerful feeling of pleasure is diminishing the more we feel it. The more we try to keep up, the more it slips away.

Secondly, by making pleasure our primary focus, we subtract from the already diminishing results with our expectations. Expectations set a higher baseline for pleasure. Anything that falls short of our expectations is not a pleasurable outcome.

Our mistake is that we make pleasure the main course when it should be a spice of life. The irony is that only by treating pleasure as a by-product that enriches our lives instead of the main goal can we maximize its occurrence in our lives.

To live a life that we can genuinely feel good about, we need to figure out a personal meaning beyond pleasure—which is also the route to the most pleasurable life.


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