🤯Unknown Unknowns #35 - Pleasure in Unexpected Places
4 min read

🤯Unknown Unknowns #35 - Pleasure in Unexpected Places

I just came back from Salt Lake City, Utah.  It's one of my favorite places to ski.  There's around ten great mountains there that are within an hour of the city.  It was my first ski trip in almost two years.  This picture is from the summit of Snowbird, through Little Cottonwood Canyon, and into the city of Salt Lake.

Image Description

One of my friends is in a new relationship.  If your significant other is a beginner, there's a big decision to be made.  Do you ditch your girlfriend and ski with your friends, or hang out with the girlfriend all day?

I told my friend, "Nick, you gotta find pleasure in unexpected places."  While I was teasing him, it's true.  What I love about skiing is pushing limits, the physical thrill of getting through hard terrain or going faster than what seems manageable.  But in the past two years I've found enjoyment in watching and helping my wife get better.

Realizing this has made me open to more experiences and trying to find enjoyment in whatever I do.

Note: I noticed one of my links was wrong last week.  Here is the correct link to the conversation between Paul Millerd and Kris Abdelmessih: https://boundless.substack.com/p/valuing-life-and-work-options-161

This Week:

Discoveries:

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Clarke Read writes about executive function, which is the "ability to resist the pull of our biological impulses to do what is right for ourselves or others."  In other words, doing hard short-term activities in order to reap long-term benefits.  However, in the modern world, activities that bring long-term pleasure have been hidden by ephemeral surface level pleasures (ex. TikTok).

As we spend an ever-greater share of our days experiencing pleasures and rewards with ever-less effort, our ability to demonstrate any of these twelve skills degrades. A simplistic view of the problem argues we no longer read books because apps and media provide an easier-to-access form of stimulation with more immediate rewards. While this is true, it understates the problem.
Not only has the emergence of alternatives made previously-valuable activities seem inferior in comparison, but it has actually eroded their value. A loss of executive function - in this analogy, manifest in a degradation of working memory, task initiation, sustained attention, and goal-directed persistence - is in effect an increase in the deterrent effect of effort.

=> Article Here

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In Praise of Idleness, by Bertrand Russell, was written ninety years ago.
The trend of most people thinking that pleasure is only found when making or spending money started at least that long ago.  What if we try to find pleasure in everything we do?

There was formerly a capacity for light-heartedness and play which has been to some extent inhibited by the cult of efficiency. The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake. Serious-minded persons, for example, are continually condemning the habit of going to the cinema, and telling us that it leads the young into crime. But all the work that goes to producing a cinema is respectable, because it is work, and because it brings a money profit. The notion that the desirable activities are those that bring a profit has made everything topsy-turvy.

=> Article Here

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Ava writes about taking agency in finding pleasure.  Don't let someone else tell you what you should like or dislike.  I'll go one step further: don't even ask yourself permission whether to enjoy something or not.  Just enjoy every single experience you have.

I’m serious about this: never take life advice from people who don’t know what they care about and don’t understand what makes them happy. These people have no agency. They have never in their life exercised their will to actually obtain something that gives them joy and pride. They’ve relentlessly exercised their will to obtain things that they like the idea of, that they think they “need.” They always think pleasure is a sin. A common argument: “If I wanted to be happy all day, I would just sit on the couch and play video games. Happiness is not the point of life. The point of life is [greatness] [ambition] [fidelity to tradition].” Omg. If someone says this to you, they literally do not understand that you can do something you actually ENJOY and be really really good at it. They’re so dominated by their superego that suffering is their only god.
The idea that you have to enjoy what you get for it to matter was just not a thing I had ever really thought about with any seriousness. I knew I liked to work hard and I was good at working hard. I noticed that maybe I enjoyed wanting things more than getting them? It had never occurred to me that that was because I wanted the wrong things.
These days when I think about agency I think about how freedom is terrifying. Because there’s no one to approve of what you’re going after, no one to tell you you’re good for pursuing it. To be free, you have to stop wanting approval. For most of us, approval is the signal that matters more than anything else. It matters more than pleasure, more than satisfaction, more than love. To wear someone else’s fantasy like a second skin is liberation from having your own. To chase after what you can never enjoy is a way of avoiding the question of what to do when you get it.

=> Article Here


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Have a great week,

Chris