Mario Villalobos

Feeling Pleasure by Denying Pleasure

I was texting with one of my friends yesterday about my horrible week at work, and our conversation turned to self-control. I told her about my desire to drink and eat junk food and my desire to indulge in all of my worst impulses. She said she had no self-control, and I told her how easy it was to have self-control. I told her to think about how good she’ll feel by not doing the things that make her feel good. I never thought about it myself in that way, but once I wrote it down, I laughed because of how true it was. She said I get off on asceticism. I think I do, actually. During this entire journey of my blog, a big part of my life has been denying myself past pleasures. I even keep track of how many days it’s been since the last time I drank or ate junk food or a handful of other bad habits. But I have what I think is a good reason for this.

I’m impulsive. It’s not the first time I’ve admitted this to myself, and it probably won’t be the last. When it comes to my impulses, I have a hard time controlling them. And the best way I’ve found that works for me to keep them under control is to deny them outright. I deal with extremes here, and I haven’t found a way to balance my life yet. I don’t drink anymore because I don’t like who I am when I drink. I do and say stupid things, and I’ve lost people because of that. I try not to eat junk food because my health is important, and I know if I have one burger, it’s going to be easier for me to let myself slip in some more junk food into my diet. I know I can control myself, but I’m like a pendulum: I swing one way, then the other, and my momentum will always keep me swinging. What I need to do is stop swinging. I need to have balance, but that’s way easier said than done.

My friend is right, too, though. I do take great pleasure in denying myself pleasures. I do get off on asceticism. The more bad habits I can deny myself, no matter how good they feel, the better I think my life will become. It’s like a purification and a simplification of my life. For the past 139 days, I’ve learned to live without many of my past bad habits, and I’ve turned out okay. Better than okay, actually. I feel like I’m at my best right now, and if I ever fall, I know it’s going to take me a long time to reach the heights I’m currently in. I have to keep reminding myself of all the good I’ve done because my mind makes it so easy for me to remember the bad. It reminds me of it all the time. But the more I keep forcing myself to remember the good I’ve done, the great things I’ve accomplished, the less ammo my mind has to hurt me. And I think that’s a big reason for my success.

I’m not sure what the lesson is here, if there even is one. I just thought this was a nice revelation in a week I learned a lot about myself. Maybe it can help someone, because in the end, that’s a big reason why I wanted to start this blog.