Pleasure. Contentment. Joy. Three states of being, involving different motives and different outcomes. Where you set your vision is where your path will lead and where your outcome will land. One is for immediate gratification for self (pleasure), the other is finding gratification in the connectedness with current status (contentment) and the ultimate is satisfaction in the connectedness with others on a deep level (joy).
If pleasure is the goal then it comes quite easy in terms of our day-to-day existence. A good meal, an exciting vacation, a pay raise, sex. Nothing wrong here. However if this is your daily mojo, you may find that as these experiences of seeking the next ‘pleasure ride’ come and go, your mind is always seeking the next fix. Hedonism is an actual philosophical trend that points to pleasure as our only aim in life. The high obtained is often followed by a moment of coming down off the high, with the wake up call of needing yet another ‘ride’. This can become the cycle of life; a constant drive to experience it. Furthermore, the more pleasurable experiences we have, it seems the next one needs to be better and longer and more fulfilling. We grow dull quickly from the satisfaction we get.
Not only could addiction set in but one can be depleted of living in a deeper, more fulfilling place.
Contentment is longer term – being satisfied with your life, your home, your job and your relationships as is. It’s living in that space where, although you do work each day to keep moving forward, you find that you are not needing to strive for bigger and better believing that this is all there is to life.
Joy is an altogether different experience.
It is not a fleeting emotion, but a deep rooted sense of being – a state of mind that is available to everybody. It is not found in material or experiential pleasures but can be found in each other. It often can be found in healthy relationships. As I have alluded to in the past, the more time I have been married, even in the midst of many trials, my joy with my husband only increases as our years together increase. We may often hit tough times and what seems like an impasse situation but as we have learned to work on our differences, fill up our tool box with principles that enhance our relationship, and seek to love and care for each other, we have experienced joy. However, It has been our greatest pleasure to find the ultimate joy in a Higher Being, beyond self. This is the relationship that makes our lives complete.
As written by Brennan Manning, “The promised peace that the world cannot give is located in right relationship with God.” When we look beyond our immediate circumstances, seeking pleasure that goes deeper than ourselves, deeper than our loved ones into the supernatural realm of the One who created us, we will truly find all that we need. It is anything but boring. It is a realm if you dare to explore, has the potential to deliver more than you ever thought or dreamed. Don’t take my word for it. Try it. What do you have to lose?
EIS Counselor: Anita Arrunategui/Images: Canva Pro