Can Less Pleasure Bring You More Happiness?

In Part I of this series we talked about the modern need for as much pleasure as possible. If one scoop of ice cream is good, two scoops is better and multiple scoops with chocolate sauce and whip cream is obviously the best. Dating one girl is good but wouldn’t a threesome be a little more fun? If we’re hanging out with the guys, we’re watching the game and having a few beers and eating some delicious snacks and checking ESPN stats and scanning our social media accounts and memes.

It’s hard to find anyone who does only one thing at a time.

like-a-psychopath

Every day, throughout the day, we stack our pleasures. We double (or triple or quadruple) our creature comforts. It’s so normal we don’t even think about it anymore. But that’s exactly the problem. We’re not thinking about our actions. And that lack of awareness over the last several decades has blinded us to the dangerous psychological state we currently think of as “normal life in the 21st century.”

More, More, More

Okay so we all know we shouldn’t eat too much junk food, we shouldn’t text and drive and we shouldn’t cheat on our wives. These activities are neither healthy nor sustainable and sooner or later bad things will happen. That’s just logic.

But the problem goes much deeper than simply refusing that last beer or turning off Netflix before the next episode of Peaky Blinders. Modern men have been so culturally brainwashed we don’t realize how many times a day we’re trying to get our double-shot of dopamine. Consequently most of us are unaware of how deep our hedonistic impulses really go.

As we add more and more pleasure, more excitement, more drama and danger, we begin to lose the our appreciation for the simpler things. The basic pleasures of our regular daily lives become boring. We start to becoming addicted to being stimulated.

As the stimulation level in our lives drops we become bored, restless, frustrated, angry and sad. Just like addicts of any substance, the need for pleasure eventually overrides our logic. Whether it’s a craving for shocking news copy, the joy of seeing new likes on social media or the hit of adrenaline from seeing a new naked woman online – whatever it is, we need more of it if we’re going to keep feeling good.

Eventually over time our lives start to spiral out of control. Our normal sex lives just aren’t enough anymore. We can’t think about anything but that video game. We need weed to get through the day. Even if we know that fast food is literally killing us we still can’t stop eating it.

Dealing with the pain of life is too uncomfortable. We need to feel good, all the time, no matter what.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

When we’re addicted to pleasure, we start lying to ourselves about what’s actually going on. There are always unresolved challenges in our lives but if you’ve just found an amazing new show with 40 episodes of pleasure ready with just the click of a button, the incentives to overcome those challenges seem far away.

This radical priority disorder keeps us from changing anything in our lives. Like hoarders we simply buy some more stuff and ignore the wasteland surrounding us. But it’s even more problematic because many of those life issues we have involve other people.

Our families, friends, bosses, co-workers, neighbors and fellow church members are all affected by our addiction. We can’t tell the truth to ourselves so it’s a lot easier to call them liars or worse. Trust becomes eroded and relationships fail.

A new 2018 study by health insurer Cigna reported that 40% of Americans say they “lack companionship,” their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and that they feel “isolated from others.”

The consequences of the modern craving for stimulation are devastating.

10 Ways To Stop Pleasure Stacking

Thankfully there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As a Superior Man you know there is always hope. If you are experiencing some of the effects of pleasure addiction here are ten ways to turn things around starting right now.

1. Start Noticing What You’re Doing

The first step of changing any addiction is to admit that something isn’t working. Are you hyperstimulated? Do you always eat meals with your family in front of the television? Are you surfing the internet while you’re talking to people? Do you check your social media or text while driving? Do you get high while you’re drinking?

Pay attention to what you’re doing throughout the day. If you’re always multitasking, if you can’t stop stacking positive experiences on top of each other, it’s probably time to slow your life down.

2. Appreciate the Little Things

Once you’ve analyzed how you much you’re multitasking, one of the best ways to unstack all those pleasures is to start enjoying each one individually.

Consciously spend time appreciating that rare steak. Savor the hops of that quality IPA. Feel the texture of your girlfriend’s red dress against her smooth thighs. Feel the acceleration in your car when you hit the gas pedal. Headbang to that one awesome guitar riff. Laugh like an idiot when your kid starts laughing. Cuddle up with your cat and marvel at how she purrs.

If you want to try a great experiment, start making a list of things that you’re grateful for. This Berkeley study demonstrated that the simple act of making a gratitude list showed significant psychological benefits for counseling patients. Even better, those benefits lasted for months afterwards.

3. Reduce Multiple Good Experiences Into Singular, Excellent Experiences

Rather than eating several fast-food meals per week, save the money (and the calories) and invest them into one truly exceptional meal at a nice restaurant. Instead of watching multiple hours of crap network television every night, plan fun, creative and interactive things to do with your woman several times a week.

No matter whether it’s a trip, a birthday, a gift or a holiday, half of the fun of life is the anticipation of upcoming cool events. Plan fun things, strategize about how to make them as epic as possible and then reap the fruits of your labor.

4. Meditate

By this point you’ve read enough research about meditation to know there are significant benefits to the practice, even if you’re never going to climb a mountain in Tibet. Although conquering our Monkey Minds is a challenge for many active devotees, the peace and serenity that come with a calm spirit is truly an incredible gift.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a formal practice or simply spending a few minutes in silent breathing and being grateful, a few minutes of meditation every day produces positive changes in your overall well being.

5. Consciously Reduce Stress In Your Life

Okay, of course everyone needs to reduce stress. We all know this. But many people spend so many hours of the day either running from their demons or anesthetizing themselves with pleasure that they don’t have time to ACTUALLY FIX THE PROBLEM.

You’re out of shape and feel like shit? Go work out and stop eating crap. Surrounded by negative downer-types? Kick them to the curb and replace them with genuinely good, uplifting people. Your wife doesn’t respect you? Either get your shit together or leave her and create the life of your dreams with someone better.

Spend less time living in someone else’s fantasy world and more time creating your own. Yours is more interesting anyway!

6. Make Progress On Your Projects Every Day

After decades of working with patients, Dr. Phil says he believes there is one simple thing everyone needs to do improve their lives:

“If you want to start having a better life,” he says, “finish what you start.”

This is a profound statement because it’s so tremendously accurate. Every project that you have ever created but left undone wears on your soul. It follows you around and whispers negative thoughts. A car in the front yard, covered in weeds. 50% of a college education. A long-time girlfriend who is nice but you’re no longer attracted to.

Go back and finish these projects. Tow the car or invest the time to repair it and get it working again. Finish the degree you’ve always secretly wanted to get. Break things off with the girl so you can find a woman who will blow your mind.

Every goal you complete will improve your self-esteem, boost your confidence, reduce mental stress, improve your sex life and increase your testosterone.  

Commit to finishing everything you start and prepare for a whole new life.

7. Make a Habit To Do the Uncomfortable Things

No one wants to do uncomfortable things. They hurt. They take time. They are mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting.

This is exactly why we need to do them. On purpose.

Life is hard. It hurts. Bad things happen all the time. We cannot control the difficulty level of life. We will continue to be beaten down regularly. The only thing we can control is how strong we become in order to absorb those beat downs without flinching. To accept the suffering and shake it off because suffering is what we as men are tasked with enduring.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Muay Thai, rucking, mud runs, mountain climbing, marathons or any other activity. There’s only one requirement: It has to kick your ass

Do something hard. Get good and cozy with suffering. Push yourself all the way past your limits, to the place where you are in danger of injury. This is where you want to be. The unsafe space between disaster ash possibility.

Whether it’s mental, physical or spiritual, growth always comes through pain. If you can learn to accept the pain and do that hard thing anyway you will become stronger than you ever thought possible.

9. Accept What Is Happening Right Now

It’s easy to revel in single moments when life is going great. For example, when you find out your new girlfriend loves to give blowjobs. But if you also find out your new girlfriend has herpes, it can be a lot harder to revel. Those are the moments when a joint and several beers suddenly make a whole lotta sense.

Accept the moment. Don’t avoid it. Don’t run from it. Stay in it. Dig deep. Keep your mind cool and collected as you wrestle with your emotions. No matter how you respond during these critical moments, they’re still happening and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. The one thing you can do is to control your attitude. You can stay objective and see things for what they are. If necessary, you can fight for what needs to be changed or to walk away.

Experience that moment. Sometimes it’s gut-wrenching. Sometimes it’s bizarre. Sometimes it’s so weird and awkward it’s beautiful. No matter how uncomfortable that moment is, stay with it. Accept the pain. Accept it as payment for every good thing you’ve experienced up to that point. Every lesson you’ve learned.

Then, if at all possible, find something funny about the situation. Most humor is based in pain so this is usually very fertile grounds.

Accept the situation in its entirety. Remain confident. Keep your sense of humor. Don’t give up a shred of masculinity. And then do what needs to be done.

10. Find Pleasure Where You Are

Whatever is happening, wherever you are, no matter the circumstances there is always SOMETHING to be appreciated. The engines. The girls dancing. The jokes. The snacks. The information. The people. The lack of people. The colors. The smells. The sounds. The quiet. The sunshine. The new sexpot. The sweet heartbreak of true love. The taste of whiskey. The joy of being drunk. The fact that the room isn’t spinning anymore.

Under extraordinary conditions, even if there is no other pleasure to be found, there can still be great pleasure in knowing you are surviving the suffering and your spirit remains unbroken.

Men Are Born To Work

Remember, men are born to work! We are built to experience toil and challenges and to overcome them! No truly great thing has ever been done that does not require hard work. Make big goals! Attempt something truly challenging and rewarding.

Slow your life down and fill it up with meaning. This takes brutally hard work. And the work is always worth every second.

I will leave you with this excellent thought by the phenomenally successful Kevin Hart. Hart has embodied this philosophy throughout his life and it has paid off handsomely:

Everybody wants to be famous, but nobody wants to do the work. I live by that. You grind hard so you can play hard. At the end of the day, you put all the work in, and eventually it’ll pay off. It could be in a year, it could be in 30 years. Eventually, your hard work will pay off.

Kevin Hart

Stay Superior!


Photo by Matt Le on Unsplash

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Jathan
Jathan is passionate about helping create a community of great men. He enjoys beautiful women, altered states and Monty Python jokes. He lives in San Diego with two cats and a lot of books. Email him anytime at [email protected]

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