Day 436, Finding Pleasure

Pleasure is an important part of becoming stress-proof.  However, how do we find pleasures that are not addictive?  It is time to make a giant list of simple pleasures.  In this article are introduced pleasures that may not obviously be pleasures.  Read for some of my thinking, projects, and experiences.  Enjoy!
 
“Barley porridge, or a crust of bread, and water do not make a very cheerful diet, but nothing gives one keener pleasure than the ability to derive pleasure even from that — and the feeling of having arrived at something which one cannot be deprived of by any unjust stroke of fortune.” -Seneca
 
Pleasure in Winding Up My Day
 
5-10 things I am grateful for:
 
mood and energy:
 
0-100
comments
mood:
75
still finding pleasure in doing things, even though it is nearly bedtime.
energy:
50
a bit fatigued
 
accomplishments:
 
accomplishment
the reason it is important
next action(s)
1.
I learned more about Awstats (Advanced Web Statistics) for interpreting my blog traffic.
Popular Blog Goal
Advance this blog to the next level.
2.
I finished reading Stress-Proof by Mithu Storoni.
Scientific Knowledge
See if any of her strategies work for you.
3.
I grew a jar of alfalfa sprouts, now ready-to-eat.
Nutritious food
When you are ready, sprout some more.
4.
I got a good start at being gluten-free for a month.
Health — See intrinsic rewards.
Do even better next time.
5.
I lost weight to 52.2 kg.
Weight loss goal
Continue.
 

Stress-Proofing

 
Finding pleasure is an important part of stress-proofing.  Today, I am entering some of Mithu Storoni’s knowledge about stress-proofing into my Achieve 50 kg mind map under “Relax and De-Stress.”  Find it in the lower, left-hand quadrant of the map.
 
 
I marked how to overcome the post-lunch dip, which I suffered throughout my working life.  Fortunately, it is less of a problem for me now.
 
I made two buttons for delta and theta binaural beats.  While exploring binaural beats on YouTube, I listened to some videos.  They were not too annoying.  You may find them a pleasure too.
 
Some of the stress-proofing activities are already part of my routine.  However, there are many new things on which to work.  As I go through my Achieve 50 kg mind map each day, I will gradually incorporate changes into my life.
 
I believe not getting stressed over all the things we need to do to stress-proof is important.  Take it a little at a time.
 

Pleasure

 
Mithu’s admonition to not put off having pleasure resonates with me.  She warns us not to find pleasure in addictions that can end up forcing us to seek addictive things just to feel normal rather than to feel any better, robbing ourselves of having any pleasure eventually.   Addictive substances and activities down-regulate our dopamine receptors so that our “normal” affect gets worse and worse.  We need more and more stimulation from the addiction just to feel normal.
 
How can we find non-addictive pleasure?  It is good to make a long list of things and activities we find pleasurable and weed out the addictive options.  Of course, there is pleasure in intimacy, though it can become addicting to some people.
 
I find pleasure in reading.  Before I got married, I played piano music.  However, since my January 16, 2011, ear injury, listening to music has not been as pleasurable.  I also find little pleasure in settings where a microphone is in use unless I have control of the volume.
 
However, I find pleasure in eating.   Some of the tastiest foods, though, are addictive.  I found though that once I took sugar out of my diet, my taste buds became stronger and the sweet taste of just about everything became more noticeable.  All foods became a pleasure, not just those doused with sugar.    
 

Asking

 
This morning, I reflect on my recent weight loss.  About the time I started becoming much more successful at losing weight, I recorded a fervent plea for help from my Maker.  This prayer was on September 25, 2019.  On September 22, 2019, I started recording all my food in Cronometer every day, without fail.  I created my Achieve 50 kg mind map.  Though I did not accomplish everything in this mind map immediately, I am getting closer and closer to doing it all.  Recently, I expanded it to include stress-proofing, critical for a successful diet.  I now review the mind map every morning and find pleasure in doing that.
 
Almost two months ago, I started losing more than .05 kg per day on average.  If I continue at this rate, I will achieve 50 kg by the end of 2019.  Even though the process of losing weight is not all pleasurable, the satisfaction that comes from achieving it is a great pleasure.  Achieving what I already have is a pleasure.  I also anticipate the pleasure of losing more.
 
These six Bible verses below are important to me, not just for weight loss, but for other things.  God has not yet granted all my requests, but I feel a movement in my life toward the things I want.  I am also feeling a tempering of what I want toward things of God, especially the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
 
 

Permission to Feel Pleasure

 
Depression interferes with the ability to feel pleasure.  I read an interesting book Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar by Natasha Tracy last May.  Natasha, who has bipolar, type II, agonizingly has the affliction of anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure.  I believe I have had anhedonia too, but only for a few weeks at a time, a few months at the most.  Most of the time I can feel pleasure.  What is it about depression that takes our pleasure away?  How can we get it back?  Is there a cure for anhedonia?  Tracy was taking a great deal of medication, which was either not helping her or possibly making her anhedonia worse.
 
I think the first thing we need to feel pleasure is that we simply must give ourselves permission to feel pleasure.  Sometimes we start feeling good, and we feel guilty for allowing ourselves to feel pleasure.  Our past experiences may have conditioned us to feel that way.  We force ourselves to do something less pleasurable, something more productive perhaps.  When depressed, we engage in neither productive or pleasurable activities.  We may simply do nothing.  That does not work either.
 

Addictions

 
Some pleasurable activities have sorry consequences down the road, especially when we are dabbling in addictions.  When we make a to-do list of pleasurable things, we can weed out those activities that have adverse future consequences.  We kind of know what activities those are.  Others may have warned us.  However, we may not believe it.  If we do not, a few experiences with the “pleasurable” activity will teach us that it is not worth it.  At that point, it may too late to extricate us from the damage without help.  Get help.
 

Pleasure in Nature

 
Why do we not do more of the non-addictive pleasurable activities?  I think in many cases, we simply do not think of them.  Especially when depressed, our mind is caught up in the negative, and the positive does not even come into our brain.  Our brain may focus on our addictions.  Sometimes we do not have the energy to get out and do activities that would be a pleasure.  One activity I found intensely pleasurable when I was single was visiting Tracy Aviary.  I loved seeing the birds.
 
 
However, getting to Salt Lake City with my driving anxiety, was a challenge.  I bought an annual pass and consequently used it very little.
 

Pleasure in Intimacy

 
We need permission from ourselves to feel pleasure, we need to think of non-addictive ways to feel pleasure, and we need the energy to do them.  Of course, we also need to see the value of feeling pleasure.  We need to become familiar with the damage stress does in our lives.  Then we can accept that feeling pleasure is one way to relieve stress.  So if we find pleasure, we can reduce the damage stress does to us.
 
Finding pleasure in intimacy does not work unless the relationship is secure.  Learn skills that build relationships, so intimacy can result.  One book a counselor recommended to me was Couple Skills, Making Your Relationship Work by Matthew McKay, Ph.D., Patrick Fanning, and Kim Paleg, Ph.D.  Later, I read another important work by John Gottman, Ph.D. and Nan Silver The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  The most important principle I learned from that book was that I had to take contempt out of my relationship.  Since I hated alcohol and my husband drank, I did not think I could make our relationship work, and I did not think marriage would ever work, but I am doing okay.
 

The Pleasure of Mastering Skills

 
It is a pleasure to master skills.  However, you may have to suffer a period of ineptitude to achieve the skills.  Delaying gratification until achieving mastery is easier if you have a future-oriented mindset.  However, delaying all pleasure is a mistake.  Put pleasures on your list that can be enjoyed now or very soon.  If you think pleasure is ungodly, read this, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)
 

Godly Pleasures

 
What are godly pleasures?  Perhaps you can only think of addictive ones right now.  I mentioned reading, eating, and going to the aviary.  Admittedly, even these pleasures can become addictive.  Maybe any pleasure can be.  What is the secret to mastering a pleasure so that we can truly enjoy it without it becoming addictive?
 

Creativity

 
Creating something beautiful can be a pleasure.  My Core Code that I made recently pleases me.  My mind map of the Aesthetics of Joy is also beautiful.
 

Stoicism

 
I am now working on a new mind map–a stoic diary.  I used to think that stoicism was all about not feeling pleasure or joy.  Rather, it is about not complaining when times get tough.  Stoicism has four values:  prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.  Those values may be worthy of incorporating into my value system.
 
Though stoic philosophy is Greek and not Hebrew, I am finding it has something to offer.  I am pasting tidbits of stoic wisdom into the stoic diary and adding my comments in the deep blue boxes.  It is a pleasure to see what results.  I am releasing my limiting belief about stoicism and realizing that the philosophy is a path to even deeper pleasure, the pleasure of self-control.
 
A young author named Ryan Holiday awakened me to stoicism.  I read his book The Obstacle is the Way in 2017 and thoroughly loved it.  Though I thought of buying his stoic diary, it occurred to me that I could make my own with Mind Meister.
 
 
Whatever you have on your pleasure list, examine it.  An addictive pleasure will ultimately rob you of pleasure.  Get help substituting it with healthy pleasures.  Balance your life with an array of simple pleasures.  Find pleasure in intimacy if you have a committed relationship.  If you have not yet figured out how to have a committed relationship, work on getting one.  The two books I mentioned are good places to start when learning the needed skills.  You do not have to find someone who is perfect or be perfect yourself to have a great relationship.  Do not put off commitment, waiting for perfection.  Living by my Core Code can make your relationship great.
 

Prayer

 
 
Prayer
 
Dear Lord,
 
What a pleasure it is for me to see how you answered my prayer on September 25th!  I have lost 3.1 kg since September 22nd, feeling confident I can lose the rest.
 
Lord, will you help me through this weight loss process?  Give me the wisdom to do what I need to do.  I suspect that I still need to work on stress-proofing my life.  Will you help me with that?  I have an outline in my Achieve 50 kg mind map.  Help me to refine that and make it work.
 
Help me to help my readers also.  Stress was one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in losing weight.  I had a very stressful year this past year or so–576 points on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale for 2018.  2019 was not as bad, but it was stressful also.  If I can stress-proof myself, my weight will never be a problem again.
 
Lord, will you help me find non-addictive pleasures I can enjoy?  Reading
is great, but too much can
be an addiction.  Help me to find balance in my joy.
 
As much as possible, I want to find pleasure in creative pursuits.  However, some aspects of creative work are just hard work and not much pleasure.  Perhaps, if I can be more future-minded and delay gratification, the anticipation of future pleasure will get me through the hard work.
 
Perhaps what I can do is find more joy and pleasure in preparing food.  I was about to say ‘cooking,’ but I often enjoy my food raw.  Cooking destroys nutrients.  I like some of my food cooked, some of it raw.
 
I find pleasure in creating my blog.  Help me to find pleasure in doing the work of making it available to more people.
 
Once my weight is off, I will want to explore pleasurable ways of keeping it off.  That does not happen automatically.
 
Bless my readers to find and enjoy their own pleasures.
 
Amen.  
 
If you would like to join me on this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.
 
 
 

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