The Pursuit Of Pleasure

A few days ago, my Dad (a retired history professor and current archivist and heritage expert) emailed me an article called “A Footprint of Delight“.

At first I was confused as to why; his explanation was:

“I thought this might be of interest. It came to me in connection with a conference… We are trying to tie the idea of heritage and culture as components in city planning, and in the making of creative communities… However, I thought you would see much more in it, and some of the references are in the spirit of what you and Barry do.”

Hmm… he had my interest and I started reading.

At first, it seemed to be about environmental sustainability.  Certainly a past interest of mine, but not really in the spirit of what Barry and I do.

After all, when we’re talking about the environment from a spiritual stance, we have to ask ourselves one huge paradoxical question…

* * * * *

And that question is:

If we indeed live in an abundant Universe… how can we have a scarcity of natural resources that need to be preserved?

That is a question that has popped into my mind again and again over the past few years.

Because we hear that the rain forests need protecting… and yet, where’s the abundance in that? We hear that animal species are becoming extinct (or at least endangered)… but where’s the abundance in that?

At least when we hear that the polar ice caps are melting, that shows an abundance of water, if nothing else… but we still get told that fresh water supplies are dwindling.

Again, where’s the abundance in that?

Are we just being told that the environment is in trouble, because it keeps people small and in their place — the same reason there’s always some illusive “enemy” overseas that Americans are supposed to be fearful of?

Maybe someday we’ll find an astute mentor to answer these puzzling questions… someone who knows about biology and world politics as much as physics (and metaphysics).  Maybe we even know who that person might be… but we’re not going to tell you yet.

In the meantime, I still like to recycle, and don’t let the rest consume my energy.

Why recycle?

Because from an entrepreneurial stance, it makes sense to help manufacturers fulfill their supply-and-demand chain without having to start from scratch.

And from an environmental stance, I’d rather see land used for better things than piles of garbage.  Not because of scarcity, but because of inspiration.

See, the article my Dad sent me was really about how it’s possible to “plan for happiness” in urban development.

It’s about the ability to create “delightful places” that people are happy to be in.

Hey, the concept of going to a “happy place” is almost cliché in psychology, and even spirituality… but you don’t usually hear about trying to create those happy places for all to enjoy in the real world.

But as one survey responded commented, a real-world special place can have a lasting impact:

“An ability to return to this place in one’s mind and find an inner peace, even when one is many, many miles away.”

Another added that this would be:

“A place that makes you feel energized, calm, in tune with life and people.”

And they weren’t just whistling Dixie.  Apparently scientific studies have been done recently on psychological responses that are the opposite of the “fight or flight” syndrome, where the body produces adrenaline; these opposite responses are when the body produces oxytocin, a hormone that produces harmony.

And what did they find?

“Recent studies indicate that we are biologically wired to experience calm and connection, the body’s natural state for healing.”

Cool!

Oxytocin is released, by the way, when we get a massage, or acupuncture, make love, meditate, exercise, spend time with people we like, or just plain have fun.

So it’s good for you to get out and play, let loose, and do something for yourself.

But of course, life needs to be in balance; we couldn’t operate entirely in that “oxytocin-state” (we’d never get anything done) any more than we could in “adrenaline-state” (we’d be constantly stressed out).

And let’s be clear about something… you can’t really design a place that “makes people happy”, no matter how calm-inducing it might be.

Yes, Barry and I like to travel.  We’re inspired by beautiful scenery, the wonders of nature, different locales and cultures, and the ability to experience life and the world around us.  When Konan the little “Babe-arian” is older, we plan to take him traveling too.

But traveling itself can’t “make” you happy.

People who were quoted in the article are looking for ways to walk and bike more, not just to cut down on fuel consumption — and not just to get healthier — but because they love connecting with nature.

But connecting with nature can’t “make” you happy.

See, happiness comes from within; pleasure is found externally.

So really, we can’t design or find “happy places” in the world, we can only design or find “pleasure places” (or, as the article calls them, “delightful places”).

It’s totally up to us if we choose to be happy as we experience that place.

The distinction between pleasure and happiness was made beautifully by Robin Sharma (#1 international best-selling author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Greatness Guide) when I interviewed him awhile back.

Robin is a favorite author of Jon Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and other celebrities and public figures, because of his understated realness… and while he claims he’s not a “guru”, he’s definitely someone that a lot of people look to for inspiration, motivation and guidance.

The following clip from that interview also explains some reasons why, as long as we’re here, life is going to be filled with ups and downs (another reason, again, goes back to that very need of everything in life, and the Universe, to be in balance):

[audio:http://lwlblog.s3.amazonaws.com/RobinSharma-clip-pleasure.mp3]

You can get the entire interview on CD for a very sweet price here.

P.S. By the way, do you still have a J-O-B?
Click here if you want to live, travel and work from anywhere, while leaving the painfully boring rat race behind…

Your Partner in the Quest For
Living a Life Without Limits
,


Filed under: Brain Science, Health & Wellness

11 Responses to “The Pursuit Of Pleasure”

  1. I think happiness is created in our own realities, where ever we go, there we are. It’s an art to find the happiness in any situation. I love the idea of a happy community and knowing it would always be that way when you go home. I just think that anyone could perceive it differently, no matter how hard you did the screening for that community. People get bored and then their minds can droop. If you had a community like this, it would need the continuos involvement of all the members; a very pro-active style of living and accountability.

  2. Hi Heather,

    I have been following the LWL Blog for some time, but have not made any comments so far.

    However, because this topic is close to my heart, I would like to add a few words.

    Someone (I can’t remember who) once said: “The only problem with going on vacation is that I have to take myself!”

    How true? If we cannot find happiness within, then traveling to the most scenic places in the world will not bring us any happiness.

    I call these external pleasures `Happiness Enhancers’ and have just written about this very subject in my blog entitled `Happiness 101′ at http://dailyhappyliving.com/?p=249

    That’s my 2 cents worth!

    Cheers!

    Gopi Menon

  3. Hi Heather,

    Your right of course. You can plan out happiness, it’s not a destination, in bubbles up from within. You can’t build a park that will make you happy, but you can take happiness to any park you go to, even those concrete little islands in New York City. I remember coming across one in the shape of a triangle with two trees growing out of those metal grates, a park bench and a couple of pigeons. Traffic zipped by in each direction. What some would call bleak didn’t bother me, I was happy.

    You guys are doing great things. I am really paying attention to what you are doing and looking for ways to use your affiliate programs in my own venue.

    Thanks

    Nick

    PS Thanks for the Robin Sharma clip. I just finished “The Monk” . It read like a thriller and I loved every word.

    Nick Grimshawe’s last blog post..Parking Space vs. Rolls Royce

  4. Funny, I am reading this having just come back from my morning walk to my local supermarket to drop of my empty bottles.

    Why do I do this?

    Why do I split the paper, plastic and tins?

    Is it that I think the environment is in trouble?

    Not at all, but I do think that most people do think it’s in trouble, which from a manifesting point of view, isn’t that great.

    I do however believe in balance, just as you have said, that we can’t really exist in a perminant “oxytocin-state” or a “adrenaline-state”, as neither would do us much good.

    The same could be said of nature, it strives for balance, and it just makes good sense to me, to put back a little of what I use. After all, I’m only borrowing a small piece of natures abundance while I am experiencing this physical form.

    With Gratitude
    John

    Law of Attraction Guide’s last blog post..Regarding Other People

  5. Heather, this is a beautiful reminder.

    Some time ago, I traveled a lot for my work. I had returned from a trip and was sharing pictures with a friend. She commented “Wow, you go to such beautiful places.” Then she paused and thoughtfully amended the commentary…. “Or, is it that you find beauty wherever you go?”

    I acknowledged it as a compliment and it’s always in the back of my mind now to find or create beauty wherever my journey takes me.

    Happy Monday!

    Holly Wood’s last blog post..What is the music playing in your head?

  6. Heather, I’m in total agreement with your thoughts.

    Here’s what I think…

    Happiness is a choice, a perspective that emanates from a place of appreciation – a feeling that flows from the heart, not the head. The brain processes what it sees, but the heart feels the delight an awe of the creation. If a person says, “I’m in this beautiful place, and I just can’t be happy, I don’t feel happy,” its because that person isn’t really there – in that moment – but lost in their head recreating stories of past or of future misery. Some people who are discontented toss out the value of experiencing different places and cultures as, “What’s the point… I’ll return and nothing will change. My life still sucks” But the truth is, everything changes. If you are conscious, and lose your self in the experience with the wonder of a little kid, it becomes a part of you. Whatever you focus on expands. Misery expands, Appreciation expands – always. It’s a choice.

  7. Happiness is over-rated.

    When I look back on the the times of my life when I was most vitally alive I remember not… being happy… but rather being challenged.

    Those times I was in love. In love with another person. Or in love with a project in which I was participating. Or in some other endeavour that required my creative abilities and dedicated action.

    Those times are the most fulfilling, and always are riddled with conflict and angst.

    When I look back on the times when I was … just happy… they seem dull by comparison.

    Interesting contradiction, no?

    PEACE
    Scott
    Be the Magic!

  8. Indeed, this is a Universe of abundance. Remember to be specific about what you want an abundance of; garbage, rats, clean water, fresh air, wholesome food, open space, traffic, trouble…?
    Good relationship is an ingredient of satisfaction for me, so…a good relationship with Earth is a respectful and caring one. The Golden Rule applies here: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    Sustainable living makes sense since action is a required pairing with blissful feelings for the Law of Attraction to work.

  9. Heather –

    As soon as YOU are ready –

    Go ahead and take the cute little fella on his first trip!!

    My daughter went to Florida with me at 1 month, and my grand-daughter went with her mother and I to the Idaho mountains at the same age!! By the time they were four (roughly 20 years apart, lol) they had each been on an ocean cruise, camping dozens of times and even on a stern-wheeler on the Mississippi.

    (Incidentally, they were both also on horseback with me before they could even walk.)

    Now that Julie has been subjected to Grandma’s brand of adventure, its Jaimie’s turn – she just LOVES bears, and I know a little safari park that usually has cubs to pet about this time of year, lol!!

    WHY WAIT?!

    “Pack em up, and head em out!!”

    (Bring Barry, too – more fun that way, lol)

    In the meantime – thank you again for another delightfully perceptive and inspiring article!!

    Sue

  10. I see your point on abundance and protection of our resources. Could it be that this is life in balance. The good, the bad, the in-betweens, and even the unseen. I have learned to let life flow through me and experience my time here. It is what it is; heritage, cultures, creative communities; always evolving, always new, always experiencing. Active living, purposeful living, educators, teaching parents, mentors, and guides. All working for the same things; working together. Building. I guess I got thinking about the whole idea of that. The people need to get there somehow, but many would have to participate in this in order to agree on how we start. Okay….I took off with that one.

  11. Good blog.

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