Viola da Gamba

Finding New Pleasures

RunnerIn this season of New Year’s resolutions, improving health is a common goal that can be frustratingly difficult to reach. As we obsess over diets and nutrition, food can become even more an object of desire. People adopt exercise regimens that might seem more punishing than gratifying. Perhaps our resolutions would be more enduring if we start with the premise of finding new pleasures.

A smart Registered Dietitian will tell you that a good dietary plan accounts for the pleasure we find in food while putting it into a healthy framework. At the OAC YWM2015 conference, Dawn Jackson Blatner explained the importance of “honoring the pleasure of a good meal” and finding dietary strategies to “let vice and virtue be friends.”

Likewise, physical activity that’s a chore is unlikely to become an enduring routine. Clinical psychologist Margarita Tartakovsky advises, “Movement is what you make of it. And it’s important for it to be pleasurable in the purest sense. So experiment with different types of movement to see what’s most pleasurable for you.”

But what about looking for new pleasures even more broadly? Writing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Elizabeth Bloom supports the idea of cultural resolutions and proposes that “a diet of classical music could be a good substitute” for excess in other pleasures. Bloom lays out four steps to help you “experience amazement” through music ranging from ethereal Renaissance motets and lively Baroque concertos to grand symphonies and refined chamber music – and much more.

Hedonics — the study of pleasure motivating eating and other behaviors — is a subject for another day. But as we face this new year together, it’s worth considering where we will find our pleasures.

Click here for more from Dawn Jackson Blatner, here for more from Tartakovsky, and here for more from Bloom. And for a bit of research on negotiated pleasures in health-seeking lifestyles, this qualitative study is worth reading.

Viola da Gamba, photograph © Enrique Gaspar Nuño / flickr

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January 3, 2016

4 Responses to “Finding New Pleasures”

  1. January 03, 2016 at 6:19 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    Important stuff, Ted, for nicotine, too.

    There is such a tension from our Puritan roots regarding pleasure, virtue, and holiness.

    But what you’ve laid out here makes sense to me. Perhaps not as pleasurable as watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but that isn’t on offer right at this moment!!

    Happy New Year!


    • January 03, 2016 at 7:00 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Joe! Here’s to healthy pleasures in 2016.

  2. January 04, 2016 at 4:02 pm, Lizabeth said:

    This is broad and wonderful! Excellent links and I’m guessing a little familial inspiration! You win the new year 🙂

    • January 04, 2016 at 4:09 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks, Lizabeth. You’re right about the familial inspiration. Happy New Year!