When did you learn that being productive and feeling good can't coexist?
Yesterday, as I was drinking my iced oat milk latte soaking up the sun on my fave coffee shop patio, I pulled out my journal to do my daily freewriting practice.
This is what I wrote:
“I’m afraid something inside me will internally combust if I try to combine work and pleasure”
After I examined and reframed this fear, I wrote:
“You're not going to internally combust – you're going to heal and it's going to be fucking beautiful.”
Pleasure just means feeling good. Who says we can’t feel good AND be productive!?!
I've been practicing and teaching pleasure-based living for three years now and this programming is still there, lurking.
You might think that because I got out of the tech rat race, I've healed all of my work issues and everything is easy for me now…
The truth is that I do work a lot less and I do experience more freedom, flexibility and fulfillment.
As modern day babes, we juggle a LOT.
Whether you’re working, studying, moming, hustling, side-gigging, caregiving or all of the above…
You need a way to come back to center and give yourself the care YOU need.
Maybe you get alone time, but it’s spent binge watching, scrolling the gram and mindlessly snacking.
We all numb out sometimes – I know I do.
And guess what? It’s okay.
It doesn’t matter if it’s been a hectic couple of hours or literally months or years since you can remember feeling present, content and connected with yourself.
You can start today, wherever you’re at.
You can choose to feel good.
Because the number one tool of a Pleasure Queen is choosing pleasure as often as you can.
And you’re in luck because today I’m sharing my 20 minute dance break pleasure as medicine turn upppp practice to jam along to in your PJs whenever and wherever you need a lil pleasure infusion!
If you're anything like me, you need a good scientific reason why you should do something.
Lucky for you I have a master’s in Integrative Health and can tell you exactly why you seriously need to start prioritizing pleasure ;) Buckle up buttercup, this is a long one!
1. Pleasure counters the effects of stress
Let’s be real. Life is hard sometimes. From work stress to planning for the future or caring for family – pleasure helps balance out all the toll stress can take on our body.
When you experience pleasure, a cascade of natural chemicals and hormones floods your system that not only feels amazing but literally helps heal chronic stress and fatigue.
The hormones released when we receive a comforting hug or massage (oxytocin) or enjoy sexual pleasure and/or a really good dance party ;) (oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin) are the exact chemical antidote to chronic stress (cortisol).
Oxytocin and dopamine down-regulate cortisol and reduce the toll of chronic stress on...
This is one of the most common questions I get – But Alyssaaa, why is it so hard to prioritize pleasure!? It should be easy...right? I meeeean this is pleasure we’re talking about here, not taxes!!
Listen, I get this question all the time so let’s take a breath, buckle up and go there.
Here are three factors that make pleasure so damn hard:
1. Our culture prizes productivity above all else
We have all been conditioned to be productive.
Our education system was literally designed with the goal of churning out efficient, reliable and productive workers. That is its objective.
It is not designed to make us happy.
It is not designed to help us find fulfillment.
It is not designed to help us heal, grow or evolve as full human beings.
It is designed to further capitalistic aims and fuel economic progress.
Read that again.
This value system instilled in our educational system is then reinforced in the workplace.
We’re expected to show up consistently everyday,...
Have you ever considered how much you actually like not feeling good?
I know it’s a bizarre question, but trust me it’s one worth investigating.
Humans are neurologically wired to focus on the negative, what's not working, what needs to be fixed (google negativity bias.) In fact, we spend inordinate amounts of time trying to solve problems that don't even exist!
This is partly what it is to be human and have this big ‘ole brain that's designed for SURVIVAL (aka problem solving and scanning for threats) vs THRIVING (aka actually enjoying life).
But this doesn't have to be your reality.
There are very practical strategies you can use to see the good, feel the good and actually let yourself take in the good.
Here's what I mean by taking in the good (or rather what I DON'T mean)...
Do you know someone who is rich but miserable?
Do you know someone who lives in the most beautiful place on earth but doesn't enjoy it?
Do you know someone or are you that someone who has...
Do you find yourself feeling exhausted and overwhelmed about everything on your plate?
In the spirit of undoing the burnout-inducing patterns of overworking and overgiving, I'm always asking myself how I can do less, while having more fun and creating a bigger impact.
I have a pink post-it on my desk that I look at everyday that asks me how I need to care for myself and how I need to show up for work that day. After I map that out, I ask myself:
How can I make this all feel more fun, safe, and pleasurable?
So many of us overachievers are driven by deep feelings of unworthiness, fear, doubt and complex emotional trauma that drives us to work harder because we learned early on that achievement was a way we could earn love.
It's healing to interrupt this pattern by creating a sense of safety, ease and pleasure as you work.
Curious how this works? Intrigued that I talk about pleasure and burnout in the same sentence?
Join us for the free workshop series Alive Again I’m leading next...
Let my people go surfing is the name of a book by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. It’s also a great summation of my biggest insight from this week!
Monday morning I woke up and found a reminder on my calendar for work I was scheduled to start this week and no part of me felt excited to do it.
I could have forced myself through but thankfully, I had a call with my coach that day and she told me to go surfing instead of working. All of my good-girl hard-working programming wanted to protest and defend why this thing HAD to get done today...but I knew she was right.
Instead, I finished what needed to get done and I went to the beach. I gave myself full permission to be in play instead of work mode and the next day I felt so lit up, energized and full of creative ideas. I was even able to finish the behind the scenes work to get my latest free offering ready for you in record time!
And since I know you’re dying to hear, the idea that came to me was for Alive Again...
As I was strolling on the beach this week, pondering life (as one does), I had an insight that might just be exactly what you need to hear today.
I caught myself wondering how much of the self-care and pleasure practices I do are exactly for me...let me explain.
I was first introduced to mindfulness and meditation through my former employer, Google. I felt super fortunate to take classes like Search Inside Yourself, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Managing Your Energy and Emotional Intelligence that were all incredibly helpful on my journey.
Through this education, I learned fundamental skills to help me manage my energy, emotions and mental health. But the thing is...these skills weren’t really intended for me or my own well-being and happiness, they were intended to make me a more effective and productive employee.
Our intentions matter!
Can taking care of your body and emotional health help you be a more successful employee – yes! Should that be your primary...
Throughout my life, I've always felt like I've had to keep working, keep moving, keep doing one more thing. But that's also made it a struggle to chill the f out and enjoy my life.
Does this sound familiar? If so, this is for you!
You're driven, you're passionate and you want to do an excellent job at whatever you take on.
These are all amazing qualities, but you've probably already learned that they also make you waaay more likely to burnout.
Here's where your secret weapon comes in.
When you consciously choose to connect to yourself in a pleasurable way, you encode the message that you deserve to feel good.
When you continue to show-up and choose pleasure, you learn to prioritize yourself over all the other things that lead you to burnout, like over-achieving and over-giving.
You learn to put yourself first over all the other things you've been taught to prioritize.
Which means you can continue kicking ass and taking names, while sustaining your own energy.
Women are powerful and dangerous to the powers that be when connected to their bodies and erotic nature.
This is why my work is rooted in the body and dedicated to unwinding pernicious patriarchal patterns that lead us to perpetuate systems of oppression.
The same patterns that lead us to burn out are actually manifestations of white supremacy culture – more on that later this week!
As we continue to show up for change in our world, I cannot stress enough the importance of making space to 1) chill and rest and 2) actually feel pleasure and joy.
Choosing pleasure when everything else indicates you shouldn't – combined with taking action, of course – is the ultimate radical act, for all women but particularly for black and queer women whose identities intersect in increased layers of oppression. This is the origin of "intersectionality."
Audre Lorde, black lesbian activist and poet pictured below, wrote the essay Uses of the Erotic which was a big inspiration for me...