self-mastery journal

you can’t feel good all the time.

I hate to break it to ya, but that endless orgasm you’re looking for doesn’t exist.

Psychologists figured this out awhile ago: you can’t feel pleasure all the time. The mechanism behind this fact is called adaptation. It means that when you experience pleasure, you will need more of it next time to experience the same level of pleasure. Eventually, you reach a point where the pleasure is no longer pleasurable.

Remember the high you got when you learned your first song on piano? Where’s that excitement now? Are you actually sick of playing that song? Do you feel the urge to learn something more complicated? That’s adaptation.

Adaptation is a blessing and a curse. It helps us survive and innovate, but it can make us miserable.

Chase after pleasure, and it no longer becomes pleasurable. Deny pleasure, and life becomes lifeless. What do we do?

The best option is to delay pleasure. Delaying pleasure strikes a perfect balance. It allows pleasure to remain pleasurable, and you’re not eliminating pleasure either.

Some examples of delaying pleasure include:

  • Cheat days. Eat healthy throughout the week and splurge on Saturdays.
  • Quasicelibacy. No masturbation/sex for several days at a time.
  • Intermittent fasting. Establish a twelve-hour-or-less eating window.
  • Vacations. A single long vacation/trip every year.
  • Meditation. The ultimate practice in delayed gratification.
  • Deliberate practice. Struggle on the path to mastery for a few short-lived moments of glory.
  • Dovetailing. Do something emotionally difficult before partaking in any short-term gratification (instead of Netflix and chill, how about Netflix and bills?).

Sure, it’s kind of a buzzkill that life is not always pleasurable. But pleasure couldn’t exist without pain.