One of the ways we process positive stimuli is through pleasure in the five senses—sex being the most powerful experience. It’s the more mundane pleasures that tend to be taken for granted.


We read when we eat. We watch t.v. when we eat. We should actually experience the pleasure of eating when we eat. Our evolutionary ancestors knew the importance of taste, and that’s why we adapted such a spectrum of pleasure receptors when eating. Let’s not take all their millennia of development for granted.

The purpose of pleasure is to process positive stimuli. If you fail in properly processing the pleasant taste of food, you will reach for more and more food. You will achieve satiety without the pleasure. This is hell on earth. This is why we are unhappy living in air-conditioned homes with brand new cars and wonderful food of any kind we can wish for. We simply fail to experience pleasure consciously.

When you eat, take every bite consciously. Yes, sometimes the kids are fussing, and somebody spills milk. But just a moment’s attention to the goodness of the food establishes the habit of awareness. Another thing that establishes the habit is arranging a more peaceful meal time with the older children or with your spouse. Even a Big Mac at McDonald’s by yourself can be a healthy way to establish this habit.

I have developed a couple of eating exercises in the Toolbox on a page titled The Art of Eating.


Another seriously abused sense. How much do we hear when we listen to music? How many people use the sense of hearing to actually drown things out rather than to bring them in?

I am one of those who was never able to abuse this sense. Perhaps I am naturally more sensitive. My minor is in music. And I hear through only my left ear since the age of seven.

My roommate in college could study with the stereo blaring. Most of my lovers over the years have been the same way. Just crank up the music and forget about things. I can’t do that. I have to listen.

“Who wants to hear all the crap going on around you?”

Sometimes you can’t control the neighbor’s lawnmower or the jackhammer outside, or the squalling kids across the street. I have a neighbor across the alley two doors down who used to swear at her son so loud she could be heard a block away. I used to just put up with it until one evening when she carried on for a half hour, calling him a “little motherfucker” every other sentence. I stood in my back yard right where she could see me and shouted at her to stop. She shouted back at me. This screaming match between us went on until she realized that I was not backing down. She calmed down and hasn’t done it again. The backyard is where I exercise and meditate. Lawnmowers and street traffic are acceptable. But abuse is not. Whatever your need for quiet, you should be able to secure it somewhere, somehow.


Most people tend to have this one down pretty well. We know the things we like to touch. We select clothing that feels good. We even pay for a massage, now and then.

Receiving touch from other people is very important. There was a time not long ago, when premature babies were isolated for extensive periods in incubators to protect them from infection. The result was that many of these babies suffered organ failure and died due to lack of touch. The mortality rate decreased when nurses began touching them and holding them more.

For various reasons, I see many people unable to receive the sense of touch from friends or family. We all know married couples who rarely touch. We all know couples who have divorced because one or both of them found other partners. There is simply no substitute for an attentive friend.


We are probably best at using this sense to feel good. In some ways, it is the most powerful because it is the least verbal. A fragrance goes right to our brains and emotions without passing through some cognitive process. Food does the same thing, but it is already too tied up in physical reactions to hunger and blood sugar and adrenalin to be as purely emotional as the sense of smell.

If we could approach the pleasure of eating, hearing or touching with the same purity that we approach the sense of smell, we would be able to process those other positive stimuli much more efficiently and much more beneficially.

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