Leading a Good Life According to the 5 Levels of Pleasure

To speak the language of true pleasure is to know your place in the world.

Pleasure is often perceived as a fleeting, superficial feeling. However, living a life of pleasure is not just about seeking momentary happiness, but rather a fulfilling way of understanding yourself that helps you design a life that’s worth living.

By embracing pleasure in all its forms and finding it in your daily life, you can cultivate a sense of contentment that extends into a more profound sense of well-being.

It’s time to rethink the nature of pleasure

Pleasure has a lot more dimensions than you might first assume. Life serves you something new to savor every day and it’s your task to expand your palette. Working towards decoding the nature of pleasure, anthropologist Lionel Tiger arrived at the model of the Four Pleasures Prism. Each point in the prism represents a distinct type of pleasure, which are:

  • Physio-pleasure: Touch, taste and smell rule this category. The pleasures here are simple and come from tactile and physical experiences. They’re intimate, private and personal.
  • Socio-pleasure: We derive this pleasure from our sense of belonging. As social creatures, humans derive great joy when we answer our nature and form close relationships with others. Feelings of acceptance and safety belong here as well as social status.
  • Psycho-pleasure: We’re also problem solvers and seek intellectual stimulation. Working our mind to gain new knowledge, solve a puzzle or acquire a skill brings out a unique satisfaction.
  • Ideo-pleasure: The final pleasure type goes beyond our physical existence. Here we’re dealing with our values, ethics, beliefs, and spiritual pursuits. Living a life in harmony with our values is the most profound type of pleasure.

Think of the prism as a compass, which empowers you to gain insight into yourself. Examine your deepest desires and achieve better self-awareness. If you’ve ever questioned what makes you get out of bed each morning, the prism guides you to some profound truths.

What are the 5 levels of pleasure? 

Tiger’s prism, as with many models, is limited in that no pleasure fits into just one category. There is no pure form of each category of pleasure. They blend seamlessly into gorgeous variations that are unique to every person.

Hence, it’s best to rank all pleasures into a hierarchy starting with the simplest ones and making your way higher and higher as you reflect and gain a deep connection with yourself.

Level 1: The Pleasure of the Senses

The dictionary of sensual pleasure is extensive. From the expert touch of a love’s hand to the soft embrace of a blanket fresh from the dryer, the body recognizes a wealth of sensations that just feel good. These are small daily pleasures that surround us and wait to be taken full advantage of.

Who doesn’t love to take a hot shower after a long walk out in the cold? These tactile experiences are how we interact with the world and come to know our place in our surroundings.

A mistake we often make when it comes to sensual pleasures is to always be seeking the next high and gorge ourselves, but often too much of a good thing can turn sour. Rather than develop a big appetite, stay fully present in the moment.

No matter how small the pleasurable moment, if you sink into the sensation, you’ll sharpen your senses and develop a much finer appreciation of even the tiniest of life’s joys.

Level 2: The Pleasure of Intimacy

Intimacy is a great source of pleasure, which you can draw from all kinds of relationships. Friends share their lives wholeheartedly. Mentors and pupils find intimacy in the act of sharing knowledge and wisdom. Parenthood itself is a voyage in intimacy that lasts a lifetime as parent and child shape each other’s lives.

Through the lens of romantic love intimacy matures and inspires. To search for your soulmate is a tale as old as time. Every shared experience is infused with intimacy and great sex turns into deep love, because you care for each other.

Trust and love are the muscles you should train to achieve intimacy in your relationships, because loving someone requires bravery and generosity. It’s being sure of your partner, trusting them to be by your side through moments like taking a Surecheck test.

Level 3: The Pleasure of Meaningful Work

In some respects, deriving pleasure from meaningful work is particularly challenging today. Stuck in a repetitive job that rarely meets your needs as a person, there’s hardly the time or the energy to devote yourself to something that matters. It doesn’t help that society pushes people to monetize every talent and skill into a side hustle.

The joy of doing work for its own sake is a unique satisfaction. It’s any activity you engage in without needing a particular reason in your own time. Let go of any thoughts you might have about productivity or hitting goals. Shift your focus from the results to the work that feeds your soul.

It’s about the process, not the outcome. Let go of perfectionism and preconceived notions. Instead, find your rhythm, and with enough practice, you can achieve a state of flow. In this category, you also find selfless work such as volunteering and charity work.

Level 4: The Pleasure of Creativity

You might think creativity is only reserved for artists, but that’s simply not the case. Everyone has the capacity to create and bring beauty into the world. The pleasure of creativity is to find what moves you and channel it. It’s one of the ultimate freedoms we can achieve.

To tap into creativity and turn it into a source of pleasure, start by broadening your definition of creativity itself. While writing poetry or painting are obvious examples, creativity can be found in simpler acts such as creating a beautiful living space. In fact, feng shui transforms the simple act of arranging furniture into an art form.

The key to accessing creativity is to find an activity that brings you joy and purpose. This connects to the previous level of pleasure. Free yourself to explore the various facets of that activity. Do you enjoy cooking? Then the pleasure of creativity comes from experimenting with new flavor combinations or trying out different dessert decoration techniques.

Let go of ego and the pressure to produce specific results and allow your imagination to guide you without expectations or preconceived notions.

Level 5: The Pleasure of Spiritual Pursuits

The final step on the ladder is the pleasure of spiritual pursuits and it’s the most difficult to ascend because a spiritual life is difficult to lead. Modern-day values prioritize productivity, the tangible and the scientific. There’s little space for the metaphysical, and little time to sit down and reflect.

Yet, there’s so much pleasure to be gained by stopping for a second to marvel at the world around us. Communion with nature is a clear example of spiritual pursuit that reminds us that we are not apart from nature, but just one piece of the whole. Any spiritual practice falls here whether it’s to partake in an organized religion, or meditation and even reading tarot cards. These are the acts that people perform to establish connections with something higher than themselves.

Harvesting the fruits of spiritual practices takes time and dedication. Whether it’s God, Nature or the Universe itself you wish to commune with, the only way to get to a place of self-awareness is through slowing down and surrendering your ego.

Perhaps the most work that needs doing here is to disconnect from your internal monologue. Forget about your to-do list, the friend that said an unkind word or that one song that is currently running on repeat in your mind. It’s easier said than done, but there are small things you can practice now to get to such a place – short meditations, mindfulness exercises or short walks in nature without any digital device in your pocket.

Pleasure is a journey

You’re only restricting yourself by seeing pleasure as the destination, rather than the start of something new. Experiencing the delectable moments life provides is an open invitation to explore beyond your comfort zone. This is doubly true when you do so with a partner safely. Surecheck knows a thing or two about the fruits of pleasure and how rewarding they can be. Just a little courage is required.

It’s not necessary to constantly pursue pleasure as it can dull your sense. It’s okay to not be okay and healthy to experience the full range of human emotions.

There is no destination. Once you remove the pressure of rushing to where you need to go, what you have to do and who you have to become is when life can truly begin.

And pleasure is your most trustworthy guide.