Grade One: Pleasure and Joy
There are many kinds of physical pleasures. They touch all of our senses: spaghetti and meatballs, a springtime walk in the park, sex, lying on the beach, laughter, hearing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, pizza, skydiving, perfume, flowers, a sunset, seeing Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, feeling the crunch of snow under your feet from the first snowfall of the season, etc., etc.
Often even just the promise and anticipation of experiencing these pleasures gives us happiness. When you’re in the car to go to a movie you’ve been waiting to see, you’re already in a good mood before you have the pleasure. Sometimes the anticipation is even greater than the pleasure itself.
Often I’ve seen an incredible looking dessert and can’t wait to sink my teeth into it, only to find its just average. The same stuff, flour, sugar, and cocoa, just mixed a different way to entice my eyes.
The soul is the real you, the body is a tool for pleasure.
Sometimes we find it difficult to find happiness in simple pleasures. Why is that?
In order for pleasure to truly increase our happiness we have to be in control. We have to master our desires. If you can sleep on the floor, you are the master of your body. And when you sleep in the soft comfortable bed – it is pure pleasure. But if you couldn’t possibly sleep on the floor, then you are a slave to the bed. The bed is your master. How can you fully access its pleasure?
Habit also limits our pleasure and joy. Once the pleasures you have become a habit, you no longer get the happiness from them you once did. If you have your favorite meal every day for a week, it loses its specialness. If you own a Godiva chocolate store, it loses some of the pleasure and happiness.
There was once a king who was very unhappy. He called for his wise man to solve his unhappiness. Here he was, a truly wealthy man, yet unhappy. The wise man told him to buy the coat from the happiest man in the kingdom and wear it. So he sent his servants to find the happiest man in the kingdom to purchase his coat. They searched far and wide until they finally found a man everyone claimed was the happiest man in the kingdom.
“His Majesty, the King, would like to buy you coat. All you have to do is name your price,” they said to him.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” he answered, “but I cannot do that.”
“You see… I don’t own a coat.”
Possessions can cause worries and problems. Being fabulously wealthy doesn’t guarantee happiness. It’s not what you have; it’s how you feel about it.
The key to experiencing happiness from the pleasures you have is appreciation. Make a list of your blessings. Make a list of the pleasures you have on a daily basis and focus your appreciation on them. Your eyes, hands, feet, etc. The stuff you’ve gotten used to and don’t think about anymore.
We had a snow storm here in St. Louis that knocked out our electricity last Thursday night until Saturday night. Of course, we all know there was a time in history when people lived without power, without a washing machine or central heating, and a latte machine. Without electric switches instead of candles, oil lamps, and kerosene burners. But now that we have all these appliances and conveniences on a daily basis, many of us have lost our appreciation for all that electricity does for us.
Make a list of the pleasures you get out of life, and you’ll automatically increase your natural joy.
I guarantee it.
Rabbi Max Weiman’s new book on happiness, A Simple Guide to Happiness: From a mystical perspective is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, and from the author by emailingMWeiman@kabbalahmadeeasy.com