April 15, 2023 by Molly Patrick

The two faces of pleasure

Did you know that pleasure and joy are two different things?
Pleasure comes from things outside of us, and joy comes from within us.

All pleasure is not created equal. Some pleasure satisfies on a soul level and evokes ongoing joy. Some pleasure, though fan-fucking-tastic in the moment, robs us of the ability to experience joy.

It’s the stuff that over-stimulates us and creates momentary pleasure that can lead us away from joy. Things like alcohol, cigarettes, processed sugar, processed food, binge-watching TV, marathon scrolling, procrastination, gossiping, and video games to name a few. There’s an urgency to this kind of pleasure.

Joy-inducing pleasure, on the other hand, has a quieter, softer, more gentle quality to it. It’s not urgent. We don’t crave joy-inducing pleasure the same way.

Reading a really good book on a sunny spot on the couch.

Following through with something.

Eating a perfectly ripe piece of fruit.

Drinking a hot cup of tea on a cold day.


Eating a delicious whole food plant based meal.

Going for a walk.

Doing something kind for someone.

These small pleasures do not feel urgent or have the same magnetic pull as over-stimulating pleasures, so we end up thinking about doing them more than we actually do them.

We want to be the type of person who gets up early, drinks tea, and stretches in the morning, but most of us wake up late and chug coffee while scrolling on our phones, forgetting about breakfast, and grabbing a pastry on the way to work.

When it adds to the overall quality of our lives, pleasure is a joyful, beautiful thing. When we feel icky and dull afterword, pleasure is destructive.  

When you seek the type of pleasure your future self will thank you for, it’s like making an investment that pays off now and in the future. When you go for instant gratification and urgent pleasure, it’s like making an investment that never pays off with money you don’t have in the first place.

This weekend, instead of partaking in shiny, temporary pleasures that scream your name, look beyond and focus on the ones that whisper to you sweetly and invite you in for a hug.

They might not be as exciting initially, but those are the pleasures that will spark joy and provide a deep sense of fulfillment in your life.


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Written by ex-boozer and ex-smoker, Molly Patrick that will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.


Not for those offended by the F word.