Broadway shows & girlfriend trips. Concerts & coffee. Happy hours & Home Goods.
Once I get a taste of joy, I only want more.
But lately, these pleasures have lost their allure.
And I believe I now understand why.
I often binge on books, too. So in the interest of full disclosure, this latest revelation came via a new-found philosophical nugget, Fulton Sheen's 78-page paperback called "Finding True Happiness." A lady passed it out at Christmas mass at the Cathedral here in Nashville.
Sheen asserts that pleasure is best enjoyed when it comes to us as a "treat," in contrast to experiences that are less pleasurable.
This makes a whole lot of sense to me. Sheen writes, "Self-discipline brings back to us the excitement of our childhood, when our pleasures were rationed--when we got our dessert at the end of the meal and never at the start." (Unless you take the kids to the Cheesecake Factory. I always had us order the cheesecake first. Isn't that the reason you're there in the first place? Why waste money on 3 meals you'll be too sick to your stomach to finish?)
Sheen's second law: Pleasure is enhanced when it has survived a moment of tedium or pain.
My daughter says her Coach Sheri Coale preaches this all the time. We must keep going at anything we do until we get our second wind. This also makes sense, although feeling despair, heartache, and regret truly HURTS. Does it make us stronger in the end? I sure as heck hope so. But the whole process stinks.
Sheen's third law: Pleasure is a by-product, not a goal. "Many people forget that pleasure comes only from the fulfillment of a duty or obedience to a law--for man is made to obey the laws of his own nature as inescapably as he must obey the law of gravity."
This is likely why my girlfriend said after leaving her day job, she had lost anticipation about an upcoming trip to Paris: "Vacations are more rewarding when you have something to vacate from!"
Again, I'm not a fan of martyrdom and self-denial. Sacrificing is NOT easy. I'll readily admit, it's been the most difficult part of my recent move to Nashville.
But I know it's good for us. Every moment of every day can't be the grand finale. Otherwise, the grand finale would be ordinary. The thrill of a major comeback in double overtime wouldn't be as thrilling without the lows of being down at the half.
Pleasure is best enjoyed in contrast to experiences that are less pleasurable.
Hope this helps you appreciate the pain --and the pleasures-- of 2015!