Do you need to bring more pleasure into your life?
In our San Francisco therapy practice, we help people incorporate more pleasure and joy in their lives because therapy isn’t just about talking about problems, it’s also about building a life where you feel better more of the time.
One powerful way to feel better is to do more things that are pleasurable on a regular basis.
Sounds obvious, right?
Then why is it so hard to put into practice? Why is it hard to schedule in, just as you would a work meeting, a doctor’s appointment or other another commitment, regular nice things for yourself?
Pleasure vs. Numbing Out
You may think, I don’t have a problem doing pleasurable things – my problem is that I do them too much! Often, though, what you think is over-doing pleasure is actually numbing out.
The kind of pleasurable activities that, over time, have a positive impact on your mood are intentional and mindful. Unintentional and mindless activities can feel pleasurable in the moment yet don’t tend to feed you in the long run.
Some common activities that tend to numb, rather than provide real pleasure are:
- Binge watching TV
- Shopping sprees
- Losing yourself online
- Partying too much
This isn’t to say that doing any of these things is bad, because there is a time and a place for everything. Binge watching your favorite TV show after a demanding week may be perfectly ok occasionally but it likely won’t feed your soul.
Pleasurable activities that really make a difference in how you experience life are intentional, mindful, and increase your sense of connection to yourself and the world. It’s the difference between the pleasure of a rowdy happy hour vs waking up early on a Sunday to watch the sunrise on Mt. Tam.
Why do nice things for yourself?
Not doing nice things negatively effects our moods
It’s not just that having pleasant events feels good, but not having them actually has a negative effect on your mood. It reduces your overall sense of wellbeing and makes you more vulnerable to feeling painful emotions.
Doing nice things builds emotional resiliency
Think of doing nice things for yourself like money in the bank. When you regularly take the time to mindfully do nice things for yourself, it’s like making deposits in your emotional resiliency bank. Then when upsetting things happen, you have emotional reserves to draw upon to help you get through.
Not doing nice things for yourself can give you a sense of deprivation, which also makes you more vulnerable to negative emotions and moods.
If you’re working all the time, for example, and not incorporating play and pleasure into your life, you’re more likely to feel irritability, frustration or sadness when things don’t work out as you hoped. And you’re less likely to bounce back quickly.
How to bring more pleasure into your life
Figure out what you like to do
Pleasure is a universal human need and different people need different things.
An afternoon curled up on the couch with a good book is one person’s idea of heaven, but for someone else, it’s an afternoon spent rock climbing.
You may know exactly what you need to do to bring more pleasure into your life. If so, go do it!
If you need some help, think about what activities help you feel:
- Connected to yourself
- Connected to others
Challenge yourself to try out new things as you may be surprised at what brings you joy.
Check in with your preconceived ideas about what feels good
What feels pleasurable, restorative or enjoyable changes at different points in our lives. Update your files about what actually would feel good for you now as opposed to what felt good in the past.
Need help bringing more pleasure, joy, and aliveness into your life?
Contact us to see how therapy can help you feel better more often. We offer individual therapy, DBT, and couples therapy. The Bay Area DBT & Couples Counseling Center is located in the Castro district of San Francisco.