Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

10 September 2010

The Individual Capacity for Joy and Pleasure

A recurring theme for me is the importance, the complexity, and the individuality of the individual human being.  One of the more important ways individuals differentiate themselves from one another is in their capacity to experience joy and pleasure.  This capacity is different because we differ in many ways from one another.  Among these ways are:
  • Babies in their first days differ in their interest in the world.
  • Babies in their first days also respond emotionally to those things in the world in which they have taken an interest in different ways.  Our brains react differently to the chemicals produced in varying quantities as we experience pleasures, pain, fear, or anticipation.
  • The capacities of our senses differ.  Differences in our nervous system are very great.
  • Our intelligences are inherently different in many ways, with complex variations in how good it is in various modes of operation.
  • We develop our rational abilities further in many different ways.
  • Our emotional response to gaining understanding, solving problems, and other analytical thinking processes differs greatly.  Our minds are our greatest pleasure center.
  • To pursue our happiness, we must first successfully identify our values so that we can direct our actions rationally.
  • We apply our rational abilities to understanding, controlling, and reacting to our emotions in very different ways.  Some see their emotions as uncontrollable threats, others as in-control guides and pleasure enhancers.
  • To understand and control our emotions, we must be willing to take the risks of exploring our pleasures and developing them.  We must work to automate them in controlled ways so we can trust, rather than fear, them.  As we become able to trust them, our pleasure increases.
  • We differ greatly in the degree to which we allow the ideas of others to assist or harm our capacity for joy and pleasure.  Some people feel guilty for experiencing pleasure, since they think pleasure is reserved for heaven.  Others feel egalitarian guilt if they have more pleasure than others do.  Others experience greater joy due to the richness added to their lives by the ideas of others.
  • Our capacity for joy and pleasure is increased when we find others with whom we can trade and share mutually held values, joys, and pleasures.
  • Suitable others for such pleasure trading and sharing are usually matches in intelligence, rationality, creativity, shared values, and have similar capacities for joy and pleasure.  When one is an exceptionally good person, our suitable partners are the people one must love.
  • One of the most important capacities for pleasure is through the experience of sex and sexual attraction.  We again differ greatly in our capability to experience pleasure in sex due to the role of the mind, our nervous systems, the differences of our sex organs and tissues, the quality of our partners, our willingness to explore and develop our enjoyment of sex, and our ability to deny the many guilts and taboos created by societies and others to cripple mankind's ability to enjoy sex.
Many people experience a limited capacity for joy and pleasure because they have not thought about these many factors which affect that capacity.  The rational man manages his life so that he is likely to experience great joy and pleasure as a constant in his life.  The effort of living is hardly worth it if it is not to be rewarded with a great measure of joy and pleasure.  Indeed, they are the very fuel for that effort.  Do not shortchange your effort in understanding how to enhance your capacity for joy and pleasure.  It takes a never-ceasing effort to refill your tank to keep the engine of life performing, especially if you want to achieve top performance.

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