What’s Your Pleasure?
Some things we do because we have to. Maybe our boss or teacher told us to, or it’s a requirement to simply go on living, like eating, but what about the things we have a choice in doing? What are your motivations?
Pleasure: This is at, or near, the top of the reasons why we do things that aren’t required of us. They bring us pleasure in some way. From the very beginning of our lives, we’re driven to seek out activities or circumstances which make those things biologists call endorphins, start popping in our brains. Just what those activities or circumstances are vary widely from person to person.
I’ve been lucky in my life to find many activities that stimulate happiness. Being a father, coaching soccer, playing video games, channeling creative energies into art and writing — all these things and many more have been the source of immense amounts of pleasure for me. Each of us can easily come up with our own list.
“Self evident,” you say. “Of course we do things because they make us happy.” You’re right, but I’m digging deeper than that. What, exactly, about a certain activity brings us pleasure? Let’s look at writing, since that’s mostly what this blog is about and probably how the majority of you got here.
“I write because it makes me happy.” Fair enough, but what specific aspects of writing cause your happiness? Many writers gain pleasure from the simple manipulation of words and language. Some like to entertain, or inform. Some probably gain their pleasure not from the act itself, but what it brings them afterward. A sense of accomplishment, praise from others, and even monetary success are all pleasurable results that can come from writing. What motivates you to write?
The reasons above can be grouped into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic, meaning something that comes from inside you or outside you, respectively. Gaining pleasure from the craft of writing is something that comes from within. It doesn’t require anyone else to make it happen. Happiness derived from experiencing the reactions of others, whether from praise or lining our pocketbooks, needs elements outside of us — and out of our control — to occur.
In my experience, people who do things for intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, reasons tend to be happier and more fulfilled at those tasks. Can we enjoy both aspects? Of course! I love hearing when someone enjoys a book I’ve written. But, just like the foundation of a house, it’s that most basic reason I think is most important.
I write stories I’d enjoy reading. I’ve said this or something similar in many interviews and even in my bio. I say it because it’s true. I can also say with certainty that I will never write a story that everyone else will like. We’re all too different. And that’s what makes life so interesting in my opinion. If we all liked the same things, the world would be a very boring place. So, embrace and respect each other’s differences, and do the things that give you pleasure from simply doing them.