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The disciplines behind pleasure

Category : News

Publication date : 23/05/2019

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Oh sweet pleasures in life!  Hot salted-butter apple tart, holding hands on the lamp-lit walk home, laughing till our stomachs shake, watching our gardens blossom in warm light and our children play. Surely, the month of May, with its soft colours and welcome bank holidays, is tailor-made for such gentle delights? A pause.  A moment where we stand at the brink of summer days and all is possible. Indeed, in French they say: ‘en mai, fais ce qu’il te plait’ meaning in May do what brings you pleasure. And is pleasure not the stuff our lives are made of? Or, if not, I ask, shouldn’t it be?

At the risk of draining pleasure of all its poetry, I consider the dimensions that form it. I’d like to know this well, see it coming from across the room. I want to know it so that I can cultivate it. We live in a work-work-work, work-more, work-harder society. We are stressed. Beyond that there are an estimated 300 million people globally suffering with depression and 275 million with anxiety. Perhaps cultivating pleasure is something we should begin to take more seriously. I propose, therefore, a seemingly contradictory idea: the discipline of pleasure. (By discipline, I don’t mean self-denial nor some grueling regime.) (No.)  Rather, regularly and attentively building pleasure from the ground up by nurturing a life that supports happiness. Just as from good earth do healthy plants grow.

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