Thursday, April 21, 2011
Are you Living for Pleasure or Meaning?
In his book Risk, author Kenny Luck relates a story told by Laurence Gonzales, an editor at Playboy in the 1970's: "I was on top of the world making millions...I had a private jet, unlimited expense accounts, meals served by butlers and, of course, famous Playmates running around the mansion. One day I couldn't take it anymore and took a walk and pondered the ultimate question: 'Can I have too much pleasure?"
Laurence isn't the only one who has to ask himself this question. All of us should inquire whether we are living for pleasure or meaning. Pleasure is easy and readily available, but meaning is much more fulfilling, though sometimes more elusive. Pleasure visits illicit websites when no one is looking, while meaning works through the difficulties of a tough marital relationship. Pleasure seeks to drown its sorrows in alcohol or too much work or play, while meaning embraces the difficulties of family responsibility and lives for the long term gratification of raising successful children. As I have found it's very difficult not to give in to temptation. We have to train ourselves and constantly do the right thing until it becomes second nature.
We all need to ask ourselves if we are truly living for our own fleshly pleasure which can only last for a short time, or are we living for lasting fulfillment and enrichment? In the end, pleasure leaves us without meaning, but living for meaning will become our greatest pleasure.