Pleasure. Contentment. Joy. Three distinct states of "being." Pleasure seeks immediate gratification for self. Contentment is seeking gratification with one's current status and joy, the ultimate satisfaction found deep within.
Each state involves different motives and different outcomes.
If pleasure is the goal, it comes easily in our day-to-day existence: a good meal, an exciting vacation, a pay raise, and sex. Seems innocuous. However, suppose this is your daily quest exclusively. In that case, you may find that as these experiences of seeking the next 'pleasure ride' come and go, your mind is always seeking the next fix. Hedonism is a philosophical trend that points to pleasure as our only aim in life. The high one obtains, followed by a period of coming off the high and needing yet another high. This can become cyclic, a constant drive to experience the high repeatedly.
Furthermore, the more pleasurable our experiences, the next one needs to be better, longer, and more fulfilling. We grow dull quickly from the level of satisfaction we experience. Not only could addiction set in, but one can be depleted of living a deeper, more fulfilling life.
Contentment is longer-term – satisfaction with your life, home, job, and relationships. It's living in that space where, although you do work each day to keep moving forward, you find that you do not need to strive for bigger and better believing the lie that this is all there is to life.
Joy is an altogether different experience. It is not a fleeting emotion but a deep-rooted sense of being at peace. It is not found in material or experiential pleasures but is found in healthy relationships. Joy is possible even in the trials that marriage can bring when two unique people seek to do life together. It's not one or the other! Amid many trials, my joy with my husband has only increased through our many years together. We often hit tough times in what seems like an impasse, but as we have learned to work on our differences, fill up our toolbox with principles that enhance our relationship, and seek to love and care for each other, we have experienced joy. However, It has been our greatest pleasure to find the ultimate joy in our God beyond this present physical world. Our relationship with God makes our lives complete.
Brennan Manning wrote, "The promised peace that the world cannot give is located in the right relationship with God." When we look beyond our immediate circumstances, seeking pleasure that goes deeper than ourselves, more profound than our loved ones, into the supernatural realm of the One who created us, we will indeed find all that we need. It is anything but boring. It is a realm if you dare to explore and has the potential to deliver more than you ever thought or dreamed. Please don't take my word for it. Try it. What do you have to lose?
Anita Arrunategui/Images: Canva Pro/Exerp: Brennan Manning, "The Rabbi's Heartbeat."
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