The Problem with Pleasure and Success

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Ever wonder why your goals and big projects never get accomplished?  “I’m not depressed” you tell yourself… “I have a decent job” and “ I get along with people.”  But when it comes to accomplishing a specific goal or setting yourself to create something new, it seems to always get pushed to the side or left incomplete.  Fear, you say?  Discouragement?  Too busy?  Well, we all experience these feelings and circumstances and yet there are those who maintain a resiliency in the pursuit of their dreams while others fall short of ever achieving them.  

Instead of falling into despair, let’s examine the role of pleasure and its effects on our drive to pursue goals and overcome challenges.  The pleasure principle is the inherent drive in a person to seek pleasure and avoid pain at all costs.  The effort placed in seeking and avoiding takes great energy. As matter of fact,  it’s a basic survival skill evident in both humans and animals.  Once a person has been filled or satiated with pleasure, the drive to accomplish, pursue, overcome, and take on any circumstance is drastically reduced.  For example, let’s say you’ve you haven’t ate all day.  All you can think about is food and what you’re going to eat and how you’re going to go about getting the food. However, once you have ate and are full, the mind becomes content and sends the message “I am good, I can rest- no need to pursue anything.”  We are left in this state until we start feeling hungry again- and the cycle of pursuit continues.  Now imagine what happens to our desire to pursue new projects and levels of aspiration when we are excessively indulging in seeking pleasure.  More often than not we’re left in a state of complacency- telling ourselves we are satisfied while falling short of our potential for success.  When the opportunity of developing a product/business, approaching a person we’re attracted to, or starting a new routine to better ourselves, the drive has been quenched with the pursuit of trivial pleasures and we are unable to push through fear and uncertainty.  

In no way is pleasure a negative thing to be avoided.  It is natural to hunger and seek satiation.  The danger lies in overindulging, resulting in complacency and unfulfilled potential.  I believe everyone is responsible for taking an honest assessment on making the connection between lack of success and time spent in overindulgence of pleasure.  

If you feel that you are not living up to your potential and are unable to remove that mysterious obstacle that stands in between you and your dreams, I urge you to honestly ask yourself how much time and energy is being wasted on feeling good.  Perhaps it is overeating, alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, or social media that you struggle with.  Make a decision today to either reduce indulging in them or cut them off altogether and place the energy and drive to accomplishing your goals.  

Can you think of any pleasures you or someone you know may be excessively indulging in and how this is affecting your or their ability to succeed?  

Irving Cabarcas, LMHC, MCAP, ICADC

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