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The pursuit of Easy Pleasure

Saturday, May 31, 2014

There is a lot of talk about the addicting nature of food, but I wonder. What I am really addicted to is Easy Pleasure. And what's easier than a cheap bag of Cheetos?

We all reminisce about "simple pleasures", but they all sound so pedestrian these days. Today's Little Things didn't exist for most of us until a few decades ago, like professional mani-pedis. Now they are so cheap and omnipresent that we don't see them as the extravagances they once were. It's just something else to do.

I remember my parents and grandparents telling me about how so many of them lived together in small spaces that just being alone was a treasure. Privacy was a privilege of the rich. Now we take it for granted. All those tiny closets from the 50s and before? No one had enough clothing to fill more than that. Now we expect closets as big as the bedrooms we lived in when growing up, the bedrooms we had to share with siblings (Wally and the Beaver shared a room). Only the wealthy had food out of season, and enough food to avoid hunger. Now there is so much cheap food that we have to worry about over-consumption.

Eating is easy, it's cheap, and it doesn't require the cooperation of another person (I don't want to be more specific here). If you find easy pleasure in shopping, you can buy a dress, then have buyer's remorse by the time you get home, and you can take it back. You can't take back the empty bag of Cheetos, or transport the calories out of your body. It's easy to say No to something you know you just can't have, like the gorgeous new car or house. It's harder to say No to a pleasure that you CAN have, right NOW.

And like other Easy Pleasures (once again I don't want to be more specific), eating is really really hard to stop once you get started. I am really looking for something that will make me feel delicious RIGHT NOW, and that is something modern, something that wasn't an option to a less affluent society. I hate that it's an option, yet I would be outraged if that option were removed.

So what to do? How do I mentally tell myself that I can no longer avail myself of a special, intense pleasure? It certainly won't work to try to convince myself that it isn't all that great after all. I'm not stupid.

I have had to learn that Pleasure doesn't have to be Easy, and that pleasures that require some effort are, indeed, better than the Easy ones. That requires Patience, and trust me, that is not a virtue I was born with. I have had to translate lessons in patience learned while raising kids, sitting in traffic, waiting on hold, paying off a mortgage, to controlling my desire for instant gratification.

I have been at goal for a long time, and I still have to remind myself to look at the payoff of "later" as being better than the immediacy of Cheetos. I have long since convinced myself of the joy of the longer term goal, but I still need to remind myself, especially when I experience the geyser of desire for pleasure NOW.

My addiction is to the Pleasure rather than the Food.
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