Breathing in present moment breathing out only moment. I have picked up so many mantras and sayings that infiltrate my thought process throughout the day. Some of these are very helpful, others are prude and straight-jacketed thoughts that have made pleasure feel like a ruler swiping across my wrist. But, there are multiple kinds of happiness, the immediate – as your teeth grip down on chocolate and the long term – oh wow, I completed that task I have been working on for a decade, warm, fuzzy, good job Ben. They both exist and the problem comes when we do this – that was nice I want another and another. Short-term or long-term Cookie Monster type sh#t.
Some humans are better at trading the short-term pleasures for long-term results, and us long term “by the book” type humans tend to be more successful in our current world, but we also tend to burn out hard. This is because our lives turn into this ever moving production line and we forget to pay attention to the pleasures of the now. We even feel guilty about it. Basically our life turns into a gray Prius. I can’t have sex right now, there are five more pages in this chapter about norepinephrine and squirrels. This is why in the beginning, we Type As have to schedule pleasure or at least schedule times to be unproductive and allow the possibility of pleasure to enter our lives. Otherwise production will always win, and with it comes the incessant worry about times when we are not productive.
“Be prepared to put off short-term pleasures for long-term fulfillment.”
-Every Zen Dude You Hate
If this state trooper runs your mind. Please blast his ass with a shotgun every week and allow yourself the inclination to press down on the gas pedal and kick up some dust. The wind on your face and the sense of F&ck you in the back of your mind.
The other kinds of folks are thrill seekers. Pleasure sluts, sometimes literally. They generally don’t do well in relationships or our normal business casual society. For these folks we have to set them up in atmospheres of responsibility and support. But we have to be careful we don’t try to cage them and put them into our box of what is right or wrong, because we, left brainers think we know what is best for them.
“This is why kids climb trees, and why it’s often a mistake when people yell at them to get down.”
Sometimes our only job to shut up or to help them become aware of their predilection to pleasure. We must not steal their passion for the present but feed it. What is it that truly drives them? How can they still live with hunger and intensity, yet not feel guilty for it, and still live a life that helps others?
That is a very individual answer, but the answer is not being trailed by a state trooper on a straight line to a hell of morning commutes and new shower curtains.
Eric Greitens in Resilience has a chapter on the different kinds of happiness. He sneaks it in in the middle of the fifth chapter and you should read it.
“In the same way that an infinite variety of colors can be created from three primary ones, we can think about the full range of happiness by looking at three primary kinds of happiness: the happiness of pleasure, the happiness of gratitude, and the happiness of excellence.”
They are all important.
I am the first type of left brainer human, but I also have an addictive personality that under some circumstances can become a pleasure slut. But most often I always want to be productive. It’s a problem. I never want to just write for fun. To me writing for fun doesn’t exist. But writing is what I tell myself I do for fun. Stupid weird, I know. This is because at times when I write I get into a flow and everything else falls away. I have chased this feeling for over a decade.
Thus, finding our real passion may be the right answer for both of these imaginary types of people because then our passion becomes productivity and we do it all out of pure joy.