On Pleasure Buttons

For many of us, food is our easiest, most-used Pleasure Button.

It’s fast. We have cookies in our cabinet. We can quickly grab a delicious beverage at Starbucks across the street.

It’s cheap. Those mini candy bars in the office candy bowl are free o’clock. The chips in the vending machine cost $2.

It’s reliable. We know exactly how good that sugar or salt or fat will taste. 

It’s not disruptive. We can eat a chocolate bar while responding to email, driving our kids to soccer, or polishing off that presentation.

It’s justifiable. “We have to eat.” 

Of course, there are many non-food Pleasure Buttons. But generally they take money or time. And often we can justify an indulgent cookie more easily than being "indulgent" with our money or time.

With good reason!

Taking an hour to lazily read a home decorating blog might feel as good as eating a bar of chocolate, for example, but we might not have an hour to spare. So instead we eat the bar of chocolate and get back to work — or eat it while we are working. The chocolate helps take the edge off so we can get that last thing done.

But you know how this ends. If food is our only source of pleasure, we will inevitably suffer because we aren't truly nourishing our bodies or listening to our holistic needs.

If we want to have a less dysfunctional relationship with food….

  • We need a diverse toolkit of Pleasure Buttons. There's nothing wrong with enjoying food, but we need other options as well.
  • We need to acknowledge that other Pleasure Buttons may not be as fast and cheap and reliable and un-disruptive to our lives.  
  • We may need to get brutally honest + make some changes or even “sacrifices.” If there is no free time in our lives, for example, then of course food will be our main (and maybe only) Pleasure Button. 
  • For some of us, it may be true that no other Pleasure Buttons feel as good as food tastes. If that's true for you, that's okay. But you may need to accept slightly lower "doses" of pleasure, at least as you transition.

What's stopping you from pressing other pleasure buttons? It might be fun if you shared your personal insights in the comments below.