Opening Up to Joy + Pleasure
I was having a conversation the other day with my nine-year-old daughter about kid jobs and adult jobs. My daughter commented that a child’s job is to learn how to be an adult. I immediately responded that a kids job is to learn how to have fun, be playful, be joyful, and be silly. I said an adults job is to take care of adult things and the reason that it’s a kids job to learn how to be playful and silly is because we need that foundation for when we become adults and get bogged down by all of the responsibilities and duties of being in a grown-up body. Let’s be honest, being an adult is far more work than fun. Of course, there is freedom and privilege, but what comes in tandem with that is the heaviness of responsibility. So many adults lose sight of access to joy and playfulness as they feel the weight of adult responsibilities. The heaviness of living as an adult is never going to go away. The strategy is to learn how to balance the pain of adulthood with joy, playfulness, and pleasure.
I believe that pain and pleasure are on opposite ends of the same spectrum. Part of the reason adults lack access to pleasure is because over time, while growing up, they learned automatic ways to save themselves from overwhelming pain. The pain we experience in childhood can be too much if we don’t have someone to hold our hand. When we shut down, by avoiding, distracting, etc., we also shut down our access to pleasure and joy.
Pleasure is your birthright. There are so many things in this world within which we may find pleasure. We can experience pleasure and joy in connection with our self, with the universe, with others, through sensations in our body, through elation in mood, and through our senses. Opening up to pleasure comes with opening up to pain. However, in grown up bodies we have access to a full grown brain and resources that weren’t available to us as children. Healing is available to us in a new way. Pleasure and joy are healing to the whole self. My challenge to you: take notice of what happens within, how you see the world and your ability to tolerate the weight of adulthood when you allow pleasure and joy to enter the realm of your regular experiences.