Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pleasure Centered?

Yes, it’s been almost a year since I last posted on the blog. Reason? Well like I mentioned earlier, blogging is more like a way of relieving myself from mental stress. Having graduated from school and working nine to five doesn’t let me be in that situation any more. It feels numb rather than stressful. And this numbness apparently feels cured only with a bit of ‘entertainment’ on Sundays. The more entertainment one indulges in, the more bearable corporate numbness feels. Or so it was until I came across this paragraph in Stephen Covey’s book a moment ago that I am going to discuss below.
He speaks about factors that determine our life – wisdom, security, guidance and power. Covey explains how these life-support factors and the lives of people often revolve around certain centers. Some of the centers that most people let their wisdom, security, guidance and power depend on include spouses, families, money, work, possession and – it was rather surprising when I came across – pleasure.
The surprise was partly because pleasure centeredness is something that I feel guilty of being a victim of and that too unsuspectingly (which is even worse). So without further ado, I’ll share the paragraph that speaks of Pleasure Centeredness in Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

‘Another common center, closely allied with possessions, is that of fun and pleasure. We live in a world when instant gratification is available and encouraged. Television and movies are major influences in increasing people’s expectations. They graphically portray what other people have and can do in living the life of ease and ‘’fun’’.
But while the glitter of pleasure-centered lifestyles is graphically portrayed, the natural result of such lifestyles – the impact on the inner person, on productivity, on relationships – is seldom accurately seen.
Innocent pleasures in moderation can provide relaxation for the body and mind and can foster family and other relationships. But pleasure, per se, offers no deep, lasting satisfaction or sense of fulfillment. The pleasure-centered person, too soon bored with each succeeding level of ‘’fun’’, constantly cries for more and more. So the next new pleasure has to be bigger and better, more exciting, with a bigger ‘’high’’.
Malcolm Muggeridge writes ‘’ Twentieth-Century Testimony’’
When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time most significant and seductive, seems now most futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known for and being praised; ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, explaining and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer.
In retrospect all these exercises in self-gratification seem pure fantasy, what Pascal called, ‘’licking the earth’’.’

Given my current state of affairs, I can’t agree with this excerpt more. May be instant gratification has become necessary for those trapped in money-churning lifestyles to prevent them from becoming robots, to let them remember that they are humans. Perhaps it is an extreme that has evolved to cure another. But is the cure permanent? I wonder if I will have thoughts at the end of my life similar to those of Malcolm Muggeridge.