Hedonia v. Anhedonia

Western society has given hedonism a bad rap. When we read the word or hear it, we get the feeling there is a wrongness to it. We liken it to a wild party that’s gone on for days, or people who only live for their own pleasure. But really it’s not as bad as all that. In fact, it can be quite good for us. The basic tenet of hedonism is the “pursuit of pleasure.” In philosophical circles, hedonism it’s believed that an individual’s pleasure, or satisfaction, is the highest good and correct goal of life.

So where did we go wrong? In many ways, society has gone the opposite way towards anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to enjoy things that should be pleasurable. As Susan wrote in Embracing Uncertainty, “It is a strange irony of modern society that the more we have, the less we seem to enjoy.”

We have so much to do, so many commitments, and take so little time to appreciate our daily blessings, that our lives have become anhedonic. We very literally lack the ability to find pleasure in our existence.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can choose to pursue a more hedonic reality, one where we take pleasure in life’s blessing and in life’s frustrations. When we slow down a bit and look for the wonders in our lives we can start living for life’s pleasures. As Susan said, “Little by little, we can work to take the “An” off of “Anhedonia” and then will find ourselves in the heavenly hedonic state of being in this world.”