A Conversation About Pleasure: Are You At Ease With Your Own Desire?


A loaded topic. In today’s zeitgeist, where pornography and its influence in the mainstream include a new level of nudity and raunchy behavior in movies, television shows and commercials,  and using the word “porn” in casual connection with everyday words, pleasure could easily be whittled down to the basest of concepts. However, pleasure encompasses much more.

Much, much more.

We have such triggers about this topic – given our society’s beginnings in Puritanical and Calvinistic chastity, that is taboo for a great many of us to broach with openness. Our triggers from morally and religiously superior upbringings take us out of the prospect of what could be an enlightening view of our own evolution, or transcendence. Our resistance to that superiority, or rigid points of view, is what makes it so easy to fall into rude humor rather than confront the layers of uncomfortable feelings just beneath the surface of that false humor facade – like a child, or a man, who laughs to cover the pain of his own embarrassment, or humiliation.

Pleasure is not just sexual in nature. Although, it definitely resides there as well, gratefully. Limiting pleasure to the realm of our sexuality would be ridiculous, but probable given the way we box pleasure in. Pleasure is the very essence of feeling good in any event, situation, circumstance or relationship.

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.

— Rita Mae Brown

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for richer and newer experience.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Feeling good is essential to our lives. It is what happiness, joy, hope, ecstasy, enthusiasm, excitement and bliss feel like. Our feelings are important, and we know this intuitively. Our measure of our health, our aliveness, our relationships, our success in our jobs or careers, our success in community, our purpose for living is by our good feelings.

Our guilt, however, has become the way in which we measure how much pleasure we allow ourselves – what we deem our fair share. It’s no wonder we live in a society riddled with addiction, including sex addiction, and anxiety and personality disorders when we give so little credence or esteem to our own pleasure.

Who made us judge and jury?

My God, a moment of bliss. Why, isn’t that enough for a whole lifetime?

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one… This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype: the overworked executive who goes on vacation, but who cannot relax.

— Elizabeth Gilbert

Pleasure is an integral component to desire. And desire is the very essence of life. When you feel pleasure, you are allowing yourself the gift of feeling the very pulse of life streaming through you in the way it does uniquely in you.

Do you allow yourself to feel pleasure throughout your day?

We often look at people who are excited or enthusiastic as if they are bonkers. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is changing, to some extent. As more of us take to YouTube and go viral expressing ourselves, dance and sing in our cars with wild abandon while stuck in traffic, or anything that expresses our enjoyment of a moment, we are allowing ourselves to do more and feel more, especially after an age of flash mobs. (Flash mobs were an expression of sheer desire for pleasure – in the face of what others thought. And, of course, people went for it. All we ever need is permission.)

And yet, we still find it difficult to be with pleasure for the sake of pleasure. Even when we allow ourselves that in our bedrooms, we do so behind closed doors, because being in a private environment alleviates our anxiety about pleasure. Unless we’re exhibitionists. But even putting that label on ourselves implants an idea that expressing sheer pleasure – of any kind – in front of others is foreign, or unwanted. How much “stuff,” negative meaning, have we put – as a society and individuals – on the words, exhibitionist and exhibitionism?

Maybe that’s even why we have problems with the word and acts of pleasure. We say, “I was pleasuring myself,” to stand for masturbation. How much “stuff,” negative meaning have we placed on masturbation – a natural process for our sexual health – over the years?

Permission is what we have to grant ourselves when we want to experience pleasure for the sake of pleasure. Please remember we are not just speaking of sexuality here. It is highly probable that there will be a number of comments below about sexuality because that is what’s most familiar to us. That is the limit I’m endeavoring to go beyond here.

Pleasure is about your whole life.

It is the permission you grant yourself to be you.

Some of us need the approval of others first before we’ll grant ourselves permission. That is okay. Often today we press ourselves and others to be what we deem as self-reliant “Go beyond your limits” “Take risks” “Go big or go…” Oh, you know that one, huh?

It’s okay to need approval. I know. Oh! What I said is self-improvement blasphemy. What?!?!?!? Approval?!?!?!?!?!

Yes, it’s okay. It’s okay to be human. If you need another’s permission to grant yourself permission, then delight in seeking it out. What is inspiration after all, but being inspired by someone’s willingness to give themselves permission?

Permission. That’s the word for today, kiddos. Pleasure. That’s the word for your consideration. For your discovery. For your exploration. For your curiosity. For wonderment.

For you.

Find a new level at which you will give yourself permission to experience pleasure every day, every moment you’re alive. You’ll experience the very essence of aliveness as you do.

It will transform you.

by Monique McIntyre, Guide. Facilitator. Public Speaker. (And blogger!) @