Please yourself – why embracing pleasure makes for a well-rounded life
Pleasure is about happiness, fulfilment and replenishment. It’s a sensation that lights you up; an experience that takes you out of time, and out of the whirl of your thoughts; a feeling of space and time and luxury.
To know pleasure is to know yourself, to connect to your truth, to get honest with what you deeply want and don’t want.
And what are we told about pleasure? It’s the reward at the end of the main task - the dessert at the end of the meal, the holiday after the deal, the glass of wine after the kids are in bed. It’s the reward for all the things to ‘have’ to do in this world.
And we’re often told it’s selfish. ‘Prioritising pleasure’, read that phrase again. What does it conjure up in your mind? To most of us, it sounds a little selfish, even hedonistic. It smacks of walking away from responsibility.
At Electric Woman, we beg to disagree. We know that when we don’t make room for pleasure in our lives, we feel dry, flat, uninspired and unavailable to give to others. We disconnect from ourselves, we fall into exhaustion, and lack of clarity and inspiration.
We believe in prioritising pleasure as a way of connecting with your desires -- and it can’t be selfish if you’re doing it in service of making the impact you want in the world around you.
And how will it help you lead and love? The shortest answer is that you’ll feel grounded in yourself. You’ll be clearer in what you want and you’ll be in touch with what it is to know what you want - and how to get it.
We are inspired by leaders who are completely themselves. Those who honour their own pleasure have an air of self-worth. When they are in that open and creative space their generosity and love for others is abundant; they have fuelled their tank and they’re ready to give to others.
And it is a pleasure to interact with a partner who is solid in themselves, who is clear about what they do and don’t want, and is softened by a day which has left them full and energised.
Let’s get into specifics. How do you prioritise pleasure in your life? To prioritise something, you must know exactly what it is and why it’s worth putting first. What sorts of activities bring pleasure into your everyday? For some of you, it will be sensations - the taste of a square of dark chocolate, the softness of your favourite sweater on your skin, the sound of the birds on your early morning run. For some, it will be a feeling of calm - of more time than you need, of space at the beginning of the day to centre yourself, of knowing you’re where you need to be. And for some, it will be an adventure, the thrill of a new place, and yes - the frisson of that intense eye contact with your lover over a cocktail.
Prioritising pleasure can be as simple as lighting a candle and putting on music you love before sitting down to work. Or making time for yoga or a bath when you get home. It could be wearing something that makes you feel beautiful or handsome, and taking the time to prepare yourself before an important meeting. It could be putting a long lovely evening with your partner ahead of work or children.
As you’ll see by now, making space for pleasure in the everyday ensures we avoid burnout. Humans are not built to spend days completing to-do lists; we are designed to have space to think, talk, play and invent.
Living a pleasurable life, in essence, means creating a life that you are conscious about -- clear on where you want to live in the world, the kind of lifestyle you want, to know consciously what fuels you and energises you. As busy and successful people, pleasure needs to be top on the agenda, it’s direct access to self-knowledge and what feels true to us in the moment.
So, we’d like to challenge you to create a pleasure project - for one week think about what do you really want for the day ahead, what will give you utmost pleasure, and then write a list of three desires each day. Can you make sure you get those three desires? Try it. See how easy it is for you and your natural capacity to allow pleasure into your day. Notice any resistance -- does it feel too self-indulgent? Do you feel you have to just get on and be productive and busy? The resistance will be illuminating and show you the area that is depriving you of energy and vitality.
This article is the first in a new series from Nikki Armytage-Foy, international leadership coach and Founder of Electric Woman. She works with women leaders from all over the world helping them fill their lives with radiance, passion, and purpose. She also leads workshops on female sexual sovereignty. Your lifestyle manager can tell you more about her coaching and workshops.