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My Philosophy of Pleasure

And how it can get you to your next level

As dancers, we tend to be super good at being disciplined and motivating ourselves to work towards our goals. From the time we are baby bunheads, we are taught the importance of always striving to be better, always pushing for our next level. So, when we hit a stalemate with our growth and accomplishments, it's NOT because we are lazy and unmotivated. The problem usually lies in the way we motivate ourselves. We often use a mindset of negativity to beat ourselves down until we reach our goals. We deny ourselves good feelings and experiences until we've endured enough suffering and pain to feel like we've accomplished something. This negative motivation mindset looks like this:

  • "If you don't master this triple pirouette, you're a lousy dancer."
  • "No one's going to pay attention to your dancing until you get your arabesque line higher." 
  • "Until you lose 5 pounds, you can't eat anything that tastes good or feel good about yourself."
Sounds like a pretty mean way to talk to yourself when you write it out like that, right? But, many of us don't think twice before saying similar "motivational" strategies to ourselves over and over again throughout the course of a day. A lot of times this negative mindset fails to lead us to our goals because it costs too much will-power to keep driving forward. Eventually, we run out and find ourselves stuck back where we started. Sometimes it does work, and we see improvements...but it leaves our spirit broken and depleted in the process. Plus, we only experience brief relief from our self-torture...oops, I mean self-motivation... because once we accomplish one thing, we are immediately onto our next set of improvements, and the cycle starts over again.
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Here's the kicker: what if there was a different way to motivate yourself? One that doesn't involve beating yourself down, mentally flogging yourself over and over again, or keeping yourself in a constant state of self-denial and suffering? One that gets you even better results with your goals? 

Welcome to my Philosophy of Pleasure. As a Bad Girl Ballerina, of course I'm going to break free of my old bunhead vices and find a different way of motivating myself that doesn't leave me as a desolate shell of a human being. Instead of keeping myself on pointe (pun intended;) through negative self-talk, I flipped my mindset to receive motivational cues through positive, pleasurable feelings.

How does this work? Let's say you have a goal of losing 5 lbs. Instead of feeling the deprivation of not having french fries, you focus on how good it feels to nourish your body with your baby kale and grilled salmon salad. You feel the nutrients rejuvenating your body and making you Bulletproof. You appreciate the clarity of your mental state without all the processed junk and sugars clouding your judgment. You focus on feeling more energetic, revitalized, healthy with each day that passes. You feel good about yourself with each "clean" choice you make knowing that you are taking steps to enhance your career and your life.

Then, when you do decide to have a treat or veer off your plan for an evening (you go out with friends, have a planned treat meal, eat at a restaurant famous for its chocolate pie;), you let yourself fully enjoy the experience. That's right, no food guilt or remorse. In fact, you let yourself feel that this treat is nourishing you in a different way - it's nourishing your emotional state. You know on a deep level this will fuel your life, fuel your passion, and help you feel your power. Use this experience of pleasure to feel alive, to remind yourself that you are worthy of enjoying life, and that YOU ARE ENOUGH right now in this present moment. You don't have to wait until you reach a goal or accomplish something until you feel good about yourself. You use these pleasurable feelings to appreciate that you are perfect in your uniqueness right NOW.

Here's how this Philosophy of Pleasure applies to your dancing. Instead of beating yourself up and noticing all your flaws throughout class, focus on all the things you are learning. Instead of walking out of class with a list of things you need to fix, solidify in your soul the things that felt good. Fill yourself with feelings of empowerment and the satisfaction of knowing you are one step closer to a better you. Use the class to build you up instead of break you down. 

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Your final take-away message: when you hear yourself using your negative mindset of "don't do this or you are bad," reframe it into your pleasure mindset of "when you do this, it feels good." Not only will you have more success with achieving your goals, but you will have a lot more fun while you're at it! Now go enjoy some pleasure, Bad Girl;)