Wellness Matters NewsletterAn Experience in Creative Journaling

Courtesy of Life Esteem, Published by Simmonds Publications

Engaging in Simple,
Healthy Pleasures Can
Restore Balance to our Hectic Lives

     Pleasure guides us to better health. When experiences are enjoyable, we want more of them. Our bodies tell us that sleep, reproduction, eating, companionship and exercise -- to name just a few of our more common daily activities -- are enjoyable. Our survival depends on engaging in these activities. And what would happen if these behaviors were not pleasurable? Eating would disappear and sleep would vanish. We could no longer survive.

     The brain has several pleasure centers which are activated by chemicals which speed satisfying sensations from one nerve to the next. Children the world over, when they are left alone to do what they choose, engage in endless hours of play. They pursue fun. Childhood may be the time in life when our brains are trained to experience pleasure. If we were able to accomplish this task well as children, we may have healthier lives as adults -- as long as we don't lose the ability to play that we acquired in childhood.

     Think about what children do when they play. They lose themselves in the pleasure of the moment. We have all observed children at play. They glow with pleasure -- they shout, smile, and move their bodies.


Engrossed in their world of play, they are aware of neither the past nor the future. There is only the moment. As adults, we also need this ability to shift our awareness from rational and logical concerns to a level that is freer and centered on the moment. People who can shift appropriately between the "there and then" to the "here and now" are good at reality testing and adapting to the demands of the world. They can draw on both their thought processes and their ability to take effective actions.

     Balance is the key to understanding the role of having fun vs. meeting real-world obligations in our lives. We can't really appreciate fun without the counterbalance of work and the responsibilities of living. And we can't truly value our work until we incorporate fun into our lives. For example, we may appreciate eating ice cream as a real source of pleasure, but what if our diets consisted of nothing but ice cream? We would quickly tire of this source of pleasure and may even come to see it as noxious. Or to take another example, a vacation is pleasurable, but only if we have a job to go back to at the end of the vacation. A permanent vacation quickly loses its appeal as a source of pleasure, which is one reason why retirement is difficult for many people. The healthy life consists of a good balance between fun and everyday responsibilities.




This newsletter is intended to offer general information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from these broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problems.

La Jolla, CA 92037

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