“The Pleasure Prescription,” by Paul Pearsall, Ph.D. was written in 1996. It is still timely and I think a classic self-help book. So here we go.
Aloha vs Haole. Aloha besides meaning “Hi,” is the word for our seventh sense, the instinctive drive to do what is pleasurable and healthful. Haole means “without health.” The author says his book is about “rediscovering your sense of aloha.”
What I Liked and Didn’t Like
Pearsall says you can get enough exercise just by walking a few times a week. I disagree with this, but won’t belabor it. There are a lot of things in the book the make sense.
I liked this. “If you want to bring pleasure into your life, be a person who brings great pleasure into life – and into someone else’s life.” I agree! If you think you are adding to someone’s day even if it is just to make it a tiny bit more enjoyable then it will make your day too.
One of the most impactful observations Pearsall makes is about relationships is drawn from the Polynesian culture. He quotes a Polynesian kahuna, “All bonds are forever. Divorce never annuls a relationship, and if you want to find joy, stay closely related to others and the world. The brain may think it has voided a commitment, but the heart does not think that way. Like a loving child, once it has loved, the heart loves forever, no matter what. You can never truly separate, even if you live a world away. It is a law of physics and a law of Polynesia. Once things join, they are transformed by their joining and are One forever.” That has stuck in my mind over the years and I think it is what really sets his book apart from the rest.
If you take the above statement to heart you will approach relationships with a far more serious and thoughtful mind. How many people are you One with that you thought were just a pause that refreshes? Think about that.
Now here is something to consider. In the world of time management, they tell you to separate what is urgent from what is important and to know the difference. Pearsall discusses urgency in a different light. He calls it the “Urgency Response.” Some people are always under its spell. If you were raised in a violent home then you are constantly “ready.”
Pearsall says, “The urgency response is not just a psychological state, but also a physiological one. A state of prolonged urgency gradually kills us and threatens those around us by weakening our immune system, stressing our heart, and prematurely aging all of our bodies ’ systems.” Then he quotes Albert Camus who says, “If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.”
Balance is the key says, Pearsall. “Healthy balance and oscillation is the key to the pleasure prescription. Just as too much happiness too often and too long can cross over to psychotic delusion, chronic unhappiness and internal stress from perceived helplessness and lack of joy can cross over to serious clinical depression.” We need to keep the parasympathetic system balanced with the sympathetic. So go get the Nature Beat App and a chest strap so you can check yours every morning.
Pain and Loss
This book is a couple of hundred pages long and I have only taken a few ideas from it so please read it yourself. There is much more to learn between these pages.
However, there is one more quote from the kahuna on pain and suffering that I thought was excellent. “When you are dealing with pain, loss, and suffering, you must remember five things. Be patient, for this too shall pass. Stay connected, for relationships must be strong to make the passing possible. Be pleasant through your pain, for that will bring you the aloha you need to heal and give healing to others. Silence your self-pity and avoid self-blame, for you are only doing what we all must do. Most of all, keep giving your aloha. Don’t use your suffering, share it by opening up to others, teaching them what you are learning from your pain, and holding and comforting them to let them know that they too will be safe when it comes to their turn.”