BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 232

Living in NYC, Bry would work 80 hour weeks, regularly. On particularly long nights, I would spend my alone time on-line shopping. I guess since I wasn’t feeling the good feelings that I was wanting, I tried, over and over (and over and over) again, to replicate those good feelings by on-line shopping.

It sounds kind of funny, right? But I think there is really something to look at here.

“We’re going to talk about false pleasures. What are they? What’s really going on in the brain?

I’m a huge believer that awareness is the key… When we understand why something’s happening the way it is, then it becomes less of an opportunity to feel like we’re just at the affect of this thing. And we get some leverage and perspective over it. So, that’s what I want to offer you today when it comes to false pleasure.”

Let me jump in, right away, with some thought-work on my part.

What are my false pleasures?

  • Eating
  • Trichotillomania
  • Facebook
  • On-line shopping
  • Watching shows
  • Listening to music

“I call it false pleasure because it’s not that it isn’t pleasurable. I would say that most of them probably are! But it’s a false pleasure because it feels good in the moment – it’s enjoyable in the moment, or at least it prevents us from feeling the struggle or the pain or the overwhelm or the challenge in the moment.

But in the long run, it’s not creating the life that we want. It’s not giving us the long-term joy that’s available to us.”

How can we determine if it is a false pleasure? Jody suggests asking ourselves: Did my day get better? Did my work become easier? Did I feel less stress or overwhelm or resistance to what I have to do?

Probably not, right? In Jody’s case, Diet Coke is just a pick-me-up, or really, it’s just a cover-up, with that first sip. Nothing resolved – nothing improved.

Let’s look at my list again. Does indulging in this pleasure improve my day today?

  • Eating – After meeting my basic need for food, eating more doesn’t at all improve my day. I’ve treated eating as a welcomed distraction. But it doesn’t solve any problems for me, or make my life any easier. It actually makes me feel sluggish.
  • Trichotillomania – Never. It is only ever a frustration at that first pull.
  • Facebook – Unless I am acting on what information I’ve gotten from facebook, ie calling someone who has posted some discouraging news, it is a tremendous waste of my time, and in no way improves my day.
  • Shopping – Again, after meeting my basic needs, shopping for food or whatever, shopping is simply a rush! It doesn’t improve my day. In fact, if I am not careful, it can cause a problem in my budget.
  • Watching shows – I love to watch a good show! It is how I like to wind down at the end of a day. But rarely does it teach me something new or improve my life in any way.
  • Listening to music – It calms me down, and makes me feel a part of something bigger than myself. But, without me actually producing the music, that need to be a part of something – to create something – remains unmet.

Now, these particular pleasures – these false pleasures – are not evil. I don’t think it’s bad to listen to Chopin instead of playing Chopin, right? Chopin is really difficult! But, it is not giving me the long-term joy that could be mine, should I learn that piece. One of my very greatest joys in life is creating music!

Our false pleasures can be a hindrance or even harmful, though, if that false pleasure is preventing us from having what we really want in life – if it is preventing us from finding the joy that is meant to be ours.

“Maybe it’s preventing you only by blocking your awareness and access to the root problem. Right?

We have people that are looking at pornography, that are gambling, that are drinking alcohol, right? All kinds of behaviors that are false pleasures. But we also have much less obviously toxic ones, such as online shopping, scrolling social media.”

They are false because they only represent a way to meet a natural human need.

Okay. So much more on this to share. Hours of thought-work on this topic of false pleasures. I want to share more tomorrow. Stay tuned.