Life Is About Choosing Pleasure and Making Meaning of Suffering — Incandescent Psychology #UnderstandingHuman

Humans do have a tendency to look for things that cause a sense of pleasure and happiness in their lives. In fact, it is not uncommon for us as humans in the name of seeking temporary pleasure, not growing traces that can be used for the long term. Such pleasure can also have a bad impact in the future. However, people often neglect to pursue such favors. Why, then?

Martin Seligman, an expert in positive psychology said, it is necessary to have a good understanding of the meaning of life, namely a pleasant life and a meaningful life or called pleasureand gratification.

Pleasure: Pleasure that is Often Overlooked

We do need pleasure, but not all enjoyment can be prioritized. Moreover, enjoyment that is temporary. In this millennial era and loneliness epidemic, the need for pleasure seems to be an obligation for modern humans. In this era, we seem to be very dependent on the various pleasures offered by various kinds of entertainment. As a result, life is always spent thinking about “what other entertainment can I enjoy?” which ultimately makes us far from the enthusiasm of self-actualization. We focus too much on how to create a positive emotional state and minimize negative emotions.

That’s what Seligman calls pleasure. Pleasure is a form of pleasure consisting of basic feelings and a strong sensory component. When only basic emotions are sustained, then when those feelings are fulfilled we no longer think about what we need afterwards. This kind of enjoyment is often the priority of most people when they need a sense of happiness in a short time.

This phenomenon is like eating ice cream in increasing portions. We will not feel the same pleasure in the first and second ice cream. When the calories we need in the body have been fulfilled by the first portion, then the second ice cream becomes no longer as delicious as the first ice cream. This is called habituation, where if a pleasure intake has been fulfilled, then we will need a higher dose of pleasure so that we can feel the pleasure again. Plus, in a study that a person often feels positive emotions when experiencing or finding the pleasure he is looking for. However, a meaningful life is more strongly associated with life satisfaction than pleasure.

Meaningful Life and Real Enjoyment of Life (Gratification)

In contrast to pleasure which is the fulfillment of pleasure related to the senses or biology, gratification is more about the fulfillment of pleasure with strength and self-quality. To strive for gratification, one must have consistency. It is not uncommon for someone to experience failure, frustration, suffering because gratification is obtained not in a short time. That is why many people ignore the enjoyment of life in the form of gratification. It is not easy indeed, there will be many challenges that can later become our growth period to mature.

Read More About Failure in “Interpreting Failure as a Self-Actualization Way”

Gratification emphasizes more on happiness or enjoyment of life obtained through activities that we like. Such activities involve not only basic feelings, but also cognitive components and interpretive abilities. In other words, gratification must involve ourselves actively rather than passively enjoy pleasure. According to Martin Seligman, gratification can come from playing volleyball, reading books, computer programming, cooking and helping the homeless.

Jerome Kagan, a developmental psychologist revealed that when the amygdala – the part of our emotional brain – is easily triggered by negative emotions and the prefrontal lobe acts as its guardian, the prefrontal lobe will recognize emotional signals coming from the amygdala. That is, every challenge that comes in the form of an experience of failure or success, it will become a database in our brain. Where in each of these experiences, there will always be emotions that accompany it, so that the brain will be able to recognize the recorded experience accompanied by the emotions that we raise in the experience. That way, we will recognize the response and reaction of our body to an event. This will make us more familiar with certain circumstances which means we will tend to feel safe, because these events are events that are familiar to us.

If the collection of interactions with others can be used as social capital, then the collection of inherited relics such as books and museums is cultural capital, then the collection of activities that we do, which requires our involvement (gratification) is the psychological capital. Where the experience of the challenge is what we can later use to increase our sense of self-esteem for ourselves.


No human being wants suffering in his life. However, that does not mean we were created just to seek and feel pleasure and happiness alone. The essence of life’s happiness is not to stay away from unpleasant feelings, suffering, discomfort. However, do not allow the feeling of suffering to last uncontrollably so as to erase all pleasant moods. This means that in living life we not only need a sense of pleasure and pleasure, but also need a little discomfort like worrying about failure which will be able to direct ourselves to always try to improve it.

Read More About Making Peace with Discomfort in “Life Is About Making Peace with Discomfort”

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