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Pleasure Is The Measure
by Stewart Blackburn

We all want to be successful, whatever that means to us, but how do we know we have genuinely become successful? What are the true hallmarks of success?

For some, success is the approval and admiration of others that one respects. For others, it is the knowledge that one has done one's duty to the best of one's abilities and that includes pleasing a deity or higher being. And for still more, it is getting as close to perfection as humanly possible.

However, if we rely on the approval and admiration of others in order to have a sense of success, then we have placed our happiness into the hands of those other people. We have given our power away, especially the power to be happy.

To have done one's duty, or more properly, to have done one's perceived duty, has a nice sense of satisfaction at times. We did what we were supposed to do and that feels good. This notion is predicated on the idea that the ideal fulfillment of that duty will bring substantial rewards. Without those substantial rewards, there really is no incentive to fulfill that duty. It's worth questioning whether or not fulfilling that duty really does work.

I think that there are a great many of us who have been brought up with the idea that we should be seeking perfection. This measure of success is fraught with great dangers, as well. The idea of perfection is that there is some standard by which we can measure everything that we do or that we are. But, if we are constantly trying to be perfect, then we are perpetually failing. That means we are constantly diminishing our self-esteem. By acknowledging our "faults" we are purportedly "improving" ourselves, that is, doing the work to make us more "perfect." We may get the paltry satisfaction sometimes of not making major mistakes, but that really is very little on the scale of life rewards.

I would suggest that since feeling better than we currently do is the motivation for everything we do, then it looks like feeling really good might be that hallmark of success we're looking for. That, of course, is what pleasure is.

In the work that I do, we want do whatever healing work we do as quickly as possible so that we can get back to partying. This isn't really as frivolous as it sounds. Partying is the fun, pleasure, love, and enjoyment of being with those we care about. It is the playful art of connection. This is Aloha. We can do this with one other person, with a large group, or even by ourselves. It is the savoring of life in its rainbow of experiences. Enjoying ourselves as much as possible in this life is what we are built for, what we work so hard for, and what makes this life worth living.

Pleasure is very much a function of how we tell the stories of our lives. If I say that the traumas that I endured as a child have scarred me and left me emotionally crippled as an adult, then I will likely be pleasure-impaired in my relationships and in my efforts to be successful. If, however, I say that the experiences of my childhood taught me to be self-reliant and powerful, in spite of the very unpleasant nature of those experiences, then I am likely to feel good about myself and be able to enjoy the fruits of my efforts. Same childhood, different story.

Our pleasure is largely a function of how we look at any given experience. In many ways we choose what's pleasurable to us and what's not. Having been a fine chef for many years, whenever I went out to restaurants I would expect good food and excellent service. And whenever I felt that things weren't up to par, I would become disgruntled and unhappy. When I finally realized that it was I who was making me unhappy, I decided that no matter how good the food was or of what quality the service was, I was going to have a good time, then after that I always enjoyed my restaurant experiences!

We choose how we react to all our experiences. Choosing reactions that leave us feeling good means that we are always choosing to have successful times. We are free to enjoy as much of life as we want to. There is no limit to how much pleasure we can have in this lifetime. We can choose to regard this life as a veil of tears or that we are born into suffering and sin. But those are self-imposed limitations that we don't have to make.

Lifting up our eyes and seeing the immense joy that is available to us any time we choose to look for it, reminds us that we can live mostly in the success of great joy. Our pleasure is a direct result of what we are focusing on, plain and simple. Focus on our misery brings more misery. A focus on our enjoyment and pleasure brings more joy and pleasure. Focusing on all the things that need to be done often overlooks the fact that all those things that need to be done are needing to be done in order to help us experience more pleasure. If we're not taking the time to fully enjoy the fruits of our labors, why bother doing those labors?

This brings us to the sacred art of savoring. Savoring is taking the time to fully enjoy something. It is not just stopping to smell the roses. It is breathing in the sweet fragrance and letting the pleasure of that experience seep into our full being. It is the awareness that we, as living animals, are a part of this Earth and that we, like all animals, are built to enjoy life.

Savoring connects all parts of our being in one moment. Our minds are focused on the source of pleasure, our bodies are fully feeling that pleasure, and our Higher Mind is delighting in the harmony in this moment. This is a moment that can occur at any time in the day. It is not grand experiences only that are worthy of savoring. Every single moment has elements that are well worth savoring. And that is a key element of the happiness we all look for.

I think it's important to remember that now is the moment of pleasure. Pleasure can only be experienced in the present moment. We can remember having had pleasure, but that's a present time experience of memory. We can anticipate future pleasure, but that's a present time experience of imagination.

All pleasures come to an end. That's the nature of pleasure. It is an experience that is largely dependent on novelty and contrast. As those things diminish, so does the experience of pleasure. However, happiness is moving gracefully from one pleasure to the next. Therefore, we can only be happy right now.

We can put off pleasures with the anticipation of greater pleasures later. But putting off happiness is simply wasting happiness. We can be happy anytime we choose by simply being present to ourselves and whatever is happening right now. So not only are pleasure and happiness experienced in the moment, but so, too, is success. Everything is successful in the moment of its enjoyment.

To experience the things and people we love is to be happy with them. That is, we enjoy them, we appreciate them, we have fun with them, we find pleasure in them. Criticism, judgment, and shame all destroy the pleasure of the things and people we love. When we look at anything or anyone with any sense that they are not as perfect as we think they should be, we are letting go of our happiness and the pleasure of the moment. When we simply allow ourselves to enjoy whatever is happening to the greatest degree possible, then we are loving successfully. Everything is perfect in the moment of its enjoyment.

We are the ones who let the pleasure in or not. We are the ones who choose where we will find our pleasures. We are the ones in charge of our happiness and the pleasure in our lives. No one else gives us pleasure unless we give them permission to. No one takes it away unless we allow them to. We have the power to enjoy our lives by taking responsibility for that pleasure.

This is the heart of success. When we take responsibility for the degree of pleasure, joy, and happiness in our lives, then we hold the keys to success in our hands. We make the choices for our happiness. And when we have decided, for ourselves, that we choose happiness, then all of our decisions become based on whether or not these choices add to or detract from our happiness.

We create our realities with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and our desires. This is the first principle of Huna. But in order to do that successfully, we need to remember that we are the ones doing it, that no one gives us the power to do it, and that it is in our choices that we find that power. Choose to find the pleasure in all that you do.

Are we getting enough enjoyment, pleasure, love, accomplishment, or happiness out of what we are doing and how we do it? That is, does what we're doing really work for us? This is an invitation to look over our lives and examine whether or not we are truly enjoying our lives as we might. Are there things that we are doing that seem like good ideas but that really are draining our energy and sapping our pleasure? Is it time to look at our lives in order to nurture the pleasures and weed out all those unnecessary miseries?

In order to be truly successful in our lives we need to:
1. Know what the pleasures are that we're looking for.
2. Be as aware as possible of the pleasures we have.
3. And savor these pleasures as deeply and as fully as we can.

The choice is always ours. We can choose happiness or we can choose unhappiness. If we are choosing happiness, then the way to stay on track is to remember that Pleasure is the Measure of Success!

Copyright 2015 Stewart Blackburn

Stewart Blackburn is the author of The Skills of Pleasure: Crafting the Life You Want. His website is: www.stewartblackburn.com; email: shamanofpleasure@gmail.com.

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