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Choosing Pleasure

A recent Dove chocolate ad caught my attention because it encouraged people to “live each day as if it’s the only one” and therefore to “choose pleasure”. It reminded me of how some people say to always finish dessert because you might die as soon as you finish your meal.

This approach bothers me, though. Much as I fully support eating what you love, and being mindful to truly enjoy the food, that doesn’t seem to be what the ad (or the dessert approach) is advocating. Rather, it seems to suggest that we should always choose pleasure, regardless of the consequences, because who knows? This might be the only day, and those consequences might never come, so why not enjoy?

The problem is, the vast majority of the time, today is not the only day. We rarely know when the end will come, so it makes sense to consider both the short-term pleasure and the long-term consequences and implications.

Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could agree with this, if I consider choosing pleasure in a different way.

What if instead of thinking today is the only day, we recognize that this isn’t likely, and to instead make choices that balance the delight of the moment with long-term pleasure? I don’t mean just enjoyment in eating, but also the pleasure of feeling good in a few hours or the next morning, and feeding our bodies in such a way that they will be around for a long time to bring more enjoyment to our lives.

In our culture of instant gratification, that’s usually not how we think about things, but it can be a good approach. And this doesn’t in any way mean that we can’t or shouldn’t enjoy our food every day. It’s just that we can choose to define pleasure in ways other than pure sweetness, especially since a variety will help us appreciate the sweet all the more.

If I think about it that way, I’m all for choosing pleasure, and I hope that I can find the right balance so I can enjoy life and all its richness well into old age.

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