Pleasure and Pain
Pleasure is a positive, enjoyable mental state worth seeking. It enhances one’s sense of well-being, and motivates one to sustain the activity. It’s a fundamental and deeply personal, subjective feeling that people desire to experience. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness. It is an activity that affords enjoyment, such as eating or sexual gratification. Poets, philosophers, physiologists, economists, theologians, moralists, and historians give “pleasure” and “pain” an infinite variety of interpretations. Descriptors such as delight, pleasure, enjoyment, satisfaction, or happiness contrast with uneasiness, trouble, pain, torment, grief, anguish, sorrow, or misery.
DNA programs us to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Pleasure is found in the process of fulfillment of needs—physiological, safety, love, esteem, self-actualization, and even self-transcendence. Fulfillment of these needs enhances health and well-being.
How may pleasure benefit humanity? What is the greater good, and how may it be promoted? Is the greater good simply universal health and contentment? Contentment (though not necessarily well-being) may be achieved by increasing pleasure and decreasing pain. A balance of pleasure and pain is needed for humans to flourish. Pleasure must be moderated or regulated, lest addiction consume people. Pain and suffering must be eliminated, or at least controlled.
In close relationships or across the world, your good actions can maximize the pleasure and minimize the pain of others. Instill feelings of comfort, security, validation, and encouragement. Provide hope, opportunity, or the means to achieve goals. Alleviate pain, and facilitate the comfort, well-being, and flourishing of others.