Concentrated Pleasures

Natural pleasures are great.
Healthy food, exercise, cleanliness, accomplishment, connection, etc.

These are the things that people were made to enjoy.

These days, mankind has focused its efforts on creating
concentrated pleasure.

Instead of natural sweets like fruit, we eat processed foods that have ten times the sweetness you find in nature.

Instead of exercise from finding food and creating shelter, there are boot camps and Iron Man triathalon.

Instead of getting comfortable thinking about things when there are a few minutes to kill, we pull out our phones.

We have trained our brains to expect huge surges of dopamine from these “super rewards” we have created for ourselves.

We have become addicted to this dopamine and this way of life.
It’s like needing a higher and higher dose of narcotics to get your high.

I want you to know, it’s not your fault.
You haven’t created this on purpose.
In fact, it is bred into you to adapt and seek more and more.

But you’ve gone along with it.
No judgment here.  I’m in the same line as you at Starbuck’s.
It’s just that you have to acknowledge that you have gone along with it in order to take control back.

You have created your life with concentrated pleasure.

But you also can create a life without addiction to the dopamine high.

My go-to super rewards are:

The ding of my cell phone.
TV and computer when I get the slightest bit bored.
Refined foods I grab instead of eating food in its original containers. (Like an orange.)

I don’t think I’m a unicorn.
Concentrated pleasure is the new normal.

This is a time for our college-bound teens to stretch and find their boundaries and try new things.

They aren’t going to give up pizza and cell phones.
Or probably a few other things we’d rather not think about.

But you can help them keep in mind that where people get in trouble (hooked) is in these concentrated pleasures.

Try giving them up for a little while.  That’s when you find out how addicted you really are.

Try giving up chocolate. Or wine. Or Facebook.

Try sitting with nothing but your own thoughts for 10 minutes.
If that drives you crazy, as it does most people, it may be time to cut down on the electronics.

We can’t do better unless we know better… unless we are aware.

I’m not an extremist.
Everyone does what they need to do to make their life work.
And I’m not saying to give everything up.

It’s not as much about giving something up as recalibrating our likes.

I found myself at a place where every drink I enjoyed was flavored or caffeinated.
I have intentionally decided to enjoy water.
For the past year I’ve had nothing to drink but water 99% of the time.
Water has become a natural pleasure for me.

Develop an enjoyment of the natural pleasures, make your life everything you want it to be, and you won’t crave concentrated pleasures to numb yourself.

That’s what I want to model to my kids.

Now excuse me while I go develop a deeper enjoyment of the natural pleasure of walking barefoot. 😉
(This really is the next natural pleasure I am cultivating.  That and soup. Yes, soup. And breathing. And showering. And non-verbal conversation. OK, I’m a work in progress. Lots still to enjoy.)


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