Pleasure vs. Reality – Principles at Odds


Has a statement ever been truer for so many aspects of life? We see something we WANT…and we want it NOW! But is that “something” what we really want the most? The need for immediate gratification has become ingrained in our human psyche. I deserve that thing I want – regardless of realities like do I really need it, can I afford it, is that really what I want, is it worth waiting for?

I can’t say specifically what this quote is referring to, but I think it’s about the things we want or about the things we want to do or even the things we don’t want to do. Maybe it’s about who or how we want to be. In the end, I feel like it could be about all of those things.

There are plenty of articles and books written about the “pleasure principle”. Freud referenced it as (in laymen terms) the need to seek pleasure, as a way to avoid pain, in order to satisfy both biological and psychological needs.

I liked this excerpt from Wikipedia on the subject…

Maturity is learning to endure the pain of deferred gratification when reality requires it. Freud argued that “an ego thus educated has become ‘reasonable’; it no longer lets itself be governed by the pleasure principle, but obeys the reality principle, which also, at bottom, seeks to obtain pleasure, but pleasure which is assured through taking account of reality, even though it is pleasure postponed and diminished”.

To me, he’s saying that as we mature, though we still want things, we understand we may not get everything we want or exactly when we want it. Freud was contrasting the “reality principle” against the “pleasure principle”.

I think the discipline quote was referencing a similar thought – that it takes discipline to look past the immediate wants we all have to consider what we really want the most.

Some examples came a little too quickly to mind, from my own life, as I was thinking through this post.

I do not want to exercise today. I’m tired and I have other things to do. Yet if I don’t exercise, how do I expect to get my body burning calories and gain strength.

I want that cute new pair of boots that are on sale. Sure, winter is almost over, and I already have a pair of boots – and there is that pesky heating bill that’s due this month – but… 

Wow that piece of cake looks SO good! Everything in moderation, right? 

I will read Scripture tomorrow, when I am not so busy and I can concentrate. Wait, tomorrow is not good either, maybe Sunday. 

Was that really gossip, if we were sharing over concern for someone? 

Any of these sound familiar to you? I’ve got a whole list of them – they are called excuses! The excuses I tell myself when I want something, want to or don’t want to do something or when I’ve acted in a way that I don’t want to act. They are plentiful, easy to come by and often harmful.

In my quest to become the person I see myself being, I have been trying to tackle my excuses. I’m slowly making progress – some movement in the right direction. I also pray A LOT asking for help! I try not to beat myself up, but strive to apply some discipline to what, at times, has been an undisciplined life. 

“Don’t you know that as long as you do what is right, then I accept you? But if you do not do what is right, watch out, because sin is crouching at the door, ready to pounce on you! You must master it before it masters you.” Genesis 4:7 (The Voice)

A great verse from Genesis which reminds us that when we don’t take control of our actions, they can often control us, taking us down roads we may not have intended to travel. Discipline in our choices helps us to stay on track and guided towards what we truly want. Learning to manage our immediate “wants” in relation to our long term goals will go a long way in getting us to where we truly want to be!

Let me close with this…

I love Zig Ziglar! He was an amazing motivational speaker who wove his faith into his work. I saw a social media post recently asking for people to share their favorite of his quotes – this is mine!


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