What does pleasure tolerance mean?
It means you can only tolerate a certain degree of pleasure. If you start to exceed this, you get anxious and will unconsciously sabotage yourself. The Australian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich described this as “Pleasure Anticipation Anxiety.”
When you cultivate behaviors that open you to greater degrees of truly feeding the appetites of your hungry soul, you increase your tolerance for pleasure. For a great read on increasing your tolerance for pleasure, check out Dr. Stella Reznick’s book, The Pleasure Zone.
How do you increase your tolerance? Practice more pleasurable activities, especially if it’s uncomfortable. The tension you feel performing this new behavior means your neural pathways are growing and giving you greater capacity for more of the stuff that feels good to you.
Engage your senses
Receiving occurs when we “feel” an encounter with an act of beauty that opens us to greater degrees of interconnectivity.
Start by receiving right now, this instant from where you are, from the more-than-human world that is around you. Close your eyes. When you open them, tell yourself to “see beauty.” Make this a daily practice.
Immerse yourself in beauty like a sunset, music, a poem or painting, a day at the spa. Remember, it is your senses that are receiving, not your bank account, ego, or competitive nature that wants to report out on your good fortune in order to elevate yourself above others. Learn to taste the sweetness in every moment “like life is a piece of chocolate melting in your mouth most of the time.”
Focus on the love that surrounds you, and give yourself a break from all the hatred and animosity in the world. Love is available to you the second you choose to see it. Did your office mate put a box of pens your desk that she/he thought you could use? Not your brand? Where will you focus – on the disappointment that he/she gave you the wrong brand or the love behind the action? Go for the love behind the action and see the beauty, not just in your head, but in your body. Now try this with the people who disappoint you the most like your child, friend, spouse, or sibling.
Actively seek restorative experiences
Give the thing you most want to receive. Generosity, yours and others, is a spiritual current entangling us into spiritual debt with one another. In the village of humanity, we each possess what the other requires to make it through the day. Someone to open the door when your hands are full or spot you that penny at the cash register. Not because it’s the “right” thing to do, but because it’s the only thing to do. Like nature, our collective life depends upon our feeding all the living things around us. Your life depends on it.
Ask or invite the healing contact of others like the support of a good friend, participation in a support group, or using your creativity to engage the world on your behalf.
Say yes to every invitation. Restore yourself by moving towards people who want to spend time with you or invite you to do something new you wouldn’t otherwise do. Connecting to others keeps you in the current of life, expanding who you are, and tethering you to the potential for greater degrees of pleasure.
How will you increase your tolerance for pleasure today?
Yours in psyche and spirit,