Our pleasure shows us where we are in alignment. It is a natural built-in system that shows us what is right for us. However, not all experiences we might label as pleasurable are created equal.
It is helpful to learn to differentiate between types of pleasure. For example, eating a piece of chocolate cake might feel good in the moment, but that does not necessarily mean it is in alignment with you. To determine whether it is or not, you need to pay attention to the entire experience. How do you feel after you eat the chocolate cake? Does it continue to be a pleasurable experience?
It is also helpful to pay attention to the quality of the pleasure. Is it consistent throughout the layers of the experience? Using the same example of the chocolate cake, it might feel good in your mouth but not in your body. Or, maybe it negatively impacts our emotions because it’s more food than we actually need and we know it, and so we feel a little uncomfortable about having eaten it.
This approach applies to all experiences in our lives: How we feel at work, how we feel in our relationships. As we pay more attention to our pleasure and learn to really listen to it, we strengthen our ability to navigate through life.
Another thing that gets in the way of using pleasure as our guide is having a negative relationship with pleasure, which can make you feel bad about something that is actually good for you. Your conditioning distorts the picture of what you are experiencing based on ideas about what you should or should not enjoy. The opposite can also be true: we can be conditioned to feel pleasure associated with things that are not good for us.
The basic experience gets distorted by misconceptions and misinterpretations of events that take what would be a simple mechanism for determining what is right for us and make it confusing. It would be wonderful if it were as easy as a pleasurable experience automatically being in alignment with your needs so you could say yes to it and welcome more of it into your life. And if it were not a pleasurable experience, then you could redirect and go in a different direction. Once we get past all of the conditioning, this is true-but that takes some time to do.
It may seem as if, given all this conditioning, it is impossible to trust how you feel about things. However, the trick is not to cast pleasure aside and start trying to figure out what is best through your mind, but instead to dive more deeply in and practice paying closer attention.
To use pleasure as a guide-and it is a very useful guide-you can start to pay attention to where you might be filtering or misinterpreting the information that’s coming in about what is pleasurable and thus learn about what does or does not work for you in any given situation. As you pay attention to all aspects of your experience around an event that you consider pleasurable, your understanding of what is pleasurable will become more refined. As we become more and more refined, it becomes easier to have that simple relationship with pleasure-if it feels good, then it is good for me. Then you will be able to use pleasure to cultivate the things, the people, places, situations, and activities that you want in your life.
As you do so, you will feel so much better and better in all aspects of your life because you are creating a life that is in alignment with you. And as you cultivate this, it will actually raise your overall energy. Your energy will start operating at a higher level, which continues the refinement process of your pleasure and allows you to really hone in on what is working for you and what is best for you through what feels good. And then your pleasure will become this incredibly valuable tool for creating a life that feels really good and is in alignment with who you are.