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The pleasure principle.

The Pleasure Principle

Imagine the world without pleasure. Life would appear colorless and humorless. A baby's smile would go unappreciated. Foods would be tasteless. The beauty of a Bach concert would fall on deaf ears. Feelings like joy, thrills, delights, ecstasy, elation and happiness would disappear. The company of others would not bring comfort and joy. The touch of a mother would not soothe, and a lover could not arouse. Interest in sex and procreation would dry up. The next generation would wait unborn.

Fortunately, life is not like that. Nerve pathways speed satisfying sensations to the brain. Packets of chemicals stand ready to transmit pleasure signals from one nerve cell to another. There is a pleasure machine within our head, in which several brain centers respond to gratifying stimulation.

All this didn't happen by accident; the human desire for enjoyment evolved to enhance our survival. What better way to assure that healthy, life-saving behaviors occur than to make them pleasurably? From eating to reproduction, from attending to the environment to caring for others, pleasure guides us to better health. Doing what feels right and feeling good are beneficial for health and the survival of the species. So through evolution, health-promoting acts are biologically connected to positive feelings -- pleasure. Although there are exceptions in the modern world, pleasure -- enjoying food, sex friends, work, and family -- is the universal innate guide to health. People recognize what is healthful by the joys of life, by their pleasurable feelings -- a delicious nap, a sated stomach, or the satisfaction of sexuality. These sensations signal our brain that we are on the right track and should continue.

It took us a long time to embrace this new kind of "Pleasure Principle." Pleasure rewards us twice: first in immediate enjoyment and second in improved health.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:health-promoting acts are biologically connected to positive feelings
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1990
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