Do What Gives You Pleasure.
Is that good advice? What if your idea of the pleasure is becoming a recluse on a warm tropical island drinking Mai Tai’s? That’s a great vacation but it isn’t a happy life. Spend two weeks laying aimlessly on a beach and you will soon discover that you are bored and ready to do something meaningful. (Ok. Maybe three weeks.)
We desire pleasure but pleasure disappoints.
Two Types of Pleasure
I was discussing this problem with Rick McKinley a Pastor in Portland and he told me that there are two types of pleasure. First, there are the Simple Pleasures. These are things like good Scotch, sleeping in, watching movies. There is a second type of pleasure which he called the “Pleasures of Being”. This type of pleasure is more complicated. It is the pleasure you get when do something you feel you were particularly designed to do. Sometimes people refer to this as their “calling”. Pleasures of Being make life meaningful.
It is important to enjoy Simple Pleasures like a picnic in the lawn or a good movie. Those pleasures give you a moment to recharge, reflect, and celebrate. But you can’t watch TV all day without feeling lazy. You can’t picnic in the lawn every day without feeling restless. If all you do is chase after simple pleasures you will find yourself disappointed. We crave the Pleasures of Being.
The Work of Pleasure
Simple pleasures are easy. They don’t require much of anything from us. They come and go quickly. Pleasures of Being take work. And this is where we get hung up. We’ve equated things that are pleasurable with things that are easy. Yet the truest, deepest pleasures are incredibly hard to achieve:
Like the pleasure of a close friend who knows you well
Or the pleasure of a long fought project that is coming together
Or the pleasure of seeing your family enjoying time together
The most pleasurable things in life take the most amount of work.
When someone says “Do what Gives You Pleasure” they don’t mean “Aim for the Easy Life". At least I hope they don’t. Because pursuing pleasure is not easy. It is the hardest and most satisfying human endeavor we have.
Look deeply into what you are uniquely designed for. What does your spirit crave? What type of work gives you joy? And then do the work that pleasure requires.