Where We Default to Pleasure

A week or so ago some of us stepped out with a bold declaration of intent. We gave voice to an important desire.

Following the declaration some of us got right online to share the news, while others of us reveled in private. Many, many of us had a moment of exhilaration followed by waves of panic and self-doubt. We were all over the place.

I wondered about that after pressing send on the post, wondered about the emotional shock-waves that hit everone after "the big tell."

For me it was a few variants of overwhelm, fueled in part by the open-ended nature of a fuzzy endpoint and the fact that I'd been public about my declaration.

And then a whole cascade of uncomfortable emotions.

I imagine many of you had similar experiences, and if not, will. Because big journeys set you outside of what you know, and bring on all the emotions that tag along with uncertainty.

This is just how it is with big journeys; you have to cope with the unknown and its emotional entourage.

So I thought I'd start you off on your journeys with one of my favorite strategies for tolerating the discomfort of uncertainty - defaulting to your pleasure.

And while this is a great strategy when working on your big vision, it's applicable to any moment in life, so apply broadly.

How the Strategy Works

For demonstration purposes, we'll use the goal you're currently working toward. But this exercise is meant to illustrate how you can default to your pleasure - whenever.

To do it, set everything aside.

Now, take a few deep breaths.

Visualize your project, the thing that's inspired you, that gives you energy, a sense of purpose and meaning. Now visualize it done and alive in the world. What will your life be like then.

Allow yourself to deeply experience the fabulous moments to come, linger on the choice ones, see how your daily moments are so much better. And the absolutely most critical part of the exercise, feel it all.

Feel the many pleasures of what you've accomplished and the life you're now living.

And once you're awash in the pleasure, feel the gratitude, the gratitude that comes with living this thing you once only imagined could be. 

It's the pleasure/gratitude combo you're going for.

This duo of feelings is a powerful anti-anything: anti-being-depressed, anti-worry, anti-self-doubt, anti-stressed-out, etc.

The pleasure exercise can be used as an actual pick-me-up as the visualization stimulates your brain to dump dopamine, its own pleasure mediated neurotransmitter.

You've  hit the pleasure zone when you actually feel: uplifted, affirmed, satisfied and restored.

Keep playing with this visualization until you reach the pleasure zone. Once there, stay a few minutes to give yourself time to absorb the experience. That's the exercise.


Points to Consider

This exercise is fabulous on a couple of levels, and I want to make brief mention of them to get you thinking in a certain direction. 

Pivoting to your pleasure is an exercise, but also an important skill. It:

  • gives you needed practice both in getting unstuck, and shifting emotional states, often between discouragement and renewed motivation, but obviously it can be anything
  • is a reminder that pleasure's always there for the taking (one of those bursting fruits by the side of the road)
  • can renew and orient you.

Pleasure is an important vantage-point and perspective:

  • it's a state from which to consider and assess how your project's doing
  • your pleasure, or lack of it, can be a commentary on your project, when you're getting off-track, and even what to do about it
  • considering your pleasure will become more natural as you do it, and you'll begin to feel more entitled to it. You'll find that your pleasure is a much more powerful and personally motivating energy than fear or obligation.

And women, we need to own our pleasure!


  • If you're having trouble getting "into the pleasure zone" it's likely that your project needs some tweaking. A project that's fully aligned with where you are should easily land you in the pleasure zone when contemplated. Use this exercise to feel your way into what needs adjusting so your project truly gives you pleasure. Keep tweaking until you can tap the joy.
  • Trouble getting into the pleasure zone could also indicate a general issue with visualization. If this is you, skip right from thinking to feeling. When you think about your project's completion and the life you'll be living, can you experience your pleasure?

Own your pleasure, use your pleasure, let it please YOU!