The Approximate Yogi

Conquering life one breath at a time


1 Comment

About the Difference between Pleasure & Satisfaction

Here is an idea that I’ve been batting around in my head for a few days and thought it would make an appropriate New Year’s post.

It occurred to me the other day during an act that should be very pleasurable but has lately been only satisfying, that there is a distinct difference between the two and that my life could use a little more of the former.

I have a lot of satisfaction in my life lately –I’m working on a lot of different projects, making progress on them, I have big to-do lists that I get done, accomplishments I continue to accrue –these things are all very satisfying to me, but are they pleasurable? Am I getting pleasure out of them? And, what is the difference?

I would say there is a big difference, yet it is a subtle one. It is a difference you probably can’t see on the outside, an internal one. Although maybe if you observed two people in the same activity you could tell which one is having a pleasurable experience and which one just a satisfying one.

The dictionary defines pleasure thus:

Plea-sure: n. 1. Feeling of being pleased; 2. Delight, joy; 3. Choice; wish

Although the third definition is a different meaning than what I am describing (as in “What is your pleasure?”), for me, I think it is key to the first two. You have a choice about it.

Satisfaction is defined as:

Sat-is-fac-tion: n. 1. Act of satisfying or state of being satisfied; 2. That which satisfies; 3. Opportunity to avenge a wrong or insult; 4. Payment of discharge as of an obligation

Let’s leave #3 out of it, but I like the use of obligation in #4. That gets at the difference I’m talking about.

Satsifaction is an act; pleasure is a feeling. Satisfaction is linked to obligation; pleasure is linked to choice, wish, even.

Obviously there are many cut and dry things in life that give pleasure and it’s great to add those things if they are missing –hanging out with friends, eating an extravagant meal, reading a really good book, making love. But what if you could add more pleasure to the everyday things in life? After all, we don’t live in ancient Greece; we do have responsibilities in our lives.

But I think this can be done. I think there can be a balance between pleasurefinding pleasure in the little things and satisfaction and I think you can have them both.

Take a simple task like watering houseplants. This is a chore I need to do, an obligation I have, since I decided I want to have houseplants. If not on my written to-do list, it is at least on my weekly mental list. I get satisfaction from checking off this task on the list. I have accomplished something that contributes to me having a nice home. But often there is no pleasure in this task. I get it done as quickly as possible and move on to something else before I’ve even given it a fully formed thought. Or maybe I’m even doing something else while watering them, like talking on the phone or watching TV.

I’ve completely overlooked the opportunity for pleasure in that task. I’ve missed noticing the new pink-purple blossom of the African violet, missed savoring the last coral-colored petals of the geranium’s flower, the new growth on the snake grass. I missed the simple opportunity to admire the lushness of green in my home, even if nothing had been new or changing.

And what is at the heart of the matter of pleasure? Of course, something I find myself writing about often here, as if I need a continual reminder in new forms that spark my consciousness in new ways –a slowing down, a conscious effort to be available for the present moment. A choice.

One must choose the present moment. For that is where the pleasure can be found, always accessed to you. But it’s the getting there, the remembering again and again, and then again to choose it.

So my New Year’s wish to you all is that you will remember to find the pleasure in life’s little moments, and then chose to follow them amongst (and not inspite of) the day’s obligations. This daily practice will get us through whatever challenges (and satisfactions) the new year may bring.

Here’s to a blessed and beautiful 2015!

In light and love,

Catie