The Pressure Path vs The Pleasure Path

Jordan WHITFIELD, UNSPLASH

Most of us have been schooled in the path of pressure. We've learned how get adrenalized close to a deadline, and when a project is completed, we jump into the next one, create to-do-lists that never get shorter, no matter how much we accomplish, and the pressure is always on.

However, most of us have not been taught in school, or elsewhere, in the ways of the pleasure path. Frankly, for most of my life, I couldn't even conceive there 1) was such a path 2) what it had to do with me 3) how on earth I could get anything done through pleasure.

It's still a discovery each day, and I find myself reverting to pressure, even when writing about pleasure, which I find such a lovely irony. It is also a reminder that years of conditioning, especially at the level of the nervous system, don't change that easily.

 CARLI JEEN UNSPLASH

CARLI JEEN UNSPLASH



Here are the three things that I've learned, and teach, on how to switch gears:
1) Get out of the head. Take a break and move away from the war-zone that is our heads, and move into our bodies. First by taking a couple of deep breaths, and then by putting on some music and taking a dance-break or skip the music and just shake out the body. Like animals do when they've been in a stressful situation. Essentially, we need to end the contraction and move into a physical and neurological state of ease. Oh, and connecting with the jewel on a conscious level helps too:)!
2) Surrender. So let's say we have a deadline and we realize that we  can stay up the coming two nights and get it done, but that it will cost us dearly, and that there is a new deadline around the corner after that. The first step is to surrender to the fact that it is too demanding and start questioning and negotiating deadlines that often are arbitrary in the first place. What is possible and reasonable?  If it is a hard deadline that can't be changed, we can lower our own ambitions, see step 3. Another great way of dealing with pressure is to start creating much more space in our calendar and not let any new assignments in.
3) Letting go of perfection. Pleasure and perfection are at direct crossroads. Perfection, according to Jungian psychoanalyst Marion Woodman is an addiction that needs to be treated as such. Perfection eats life for breakfast. Another way of looking at perfection is to see that our inner judge is at work, the one that is terrified that we will make a wrong move, so we better check that writing ten more times before we let it go (looking at me:)). Letting go of our inner judge is a process too, but just to recognize that it is at work, is a great start. One of the best ways to discover  that our inner judge is running the show is to recognize the use of the world "should".  "I should have gotten that revision done last week". "I should have done a better job". "Someone else should have done their job right." 

So checking in with ourselves, after our dance break, and seeing that we will do what we can, and that that will be good enough is a great way to get started on the pleasure path. It is also a reminder to not treat "life as a problem to be solved, but rather as a reality to be experienced" according to Kirkegaard or according to Osho, as "a mystery to be lived".

Choosing the pleasure path instead of the pressure path is a choice we will need to keep coming back to. A choice to be taken again and again. If we truly believe that it is possible to live from a place of juiciness, empowerment and inner-direction, we need to make pleasure a priority. Pleasure will have to trump pressure in our own inner world, and be something we really want in our lives. Imagine if life could be lived from that place of play? And to see life as a mystery to be lived?

Have a lovely and juicy week!
Love and truth,
Lotta Lovisa