I just visited a great website, Chocolate for Breakfast where Sue Ann Gleason shares the wisdom of pleasure and permission. So many of us live with and continually suffer from guilty-pleasure-punishment syndrome. We don’t know how or won’t allow ourselves to surrender to our delights and our joys – our “chocolates.”

Sue Ann talks about permission. It’s really an inner permission to experience pleasure, even little bits of pleasure.

For Sue Ann, permission is conscious and pleasure is surrounded with beauty.

This approach to pleasure and permission is mature and thoughtful. It releases our confused and anxious early childhood memories of punishment and reward, of doing what we can get away with behind our mother’s back, of meaningless promises and little lies. Let’s not forget the admonitions and beliefs around if it’s good for you, it will taste bad, so take your medicine and eat your spinach. hence, if it taste/feels good, it is bad for you and you’re bad for enjoying it.

And don’t forget the demanding dramas around homework and chores and being a good girl before playing that comes from our years between 7 and 14. And, of course, the puritanical conflict around sexual pleasure and self-control, the wild years of seeking pleasure (and independence) in drugs, sex and rock-n-roll that begin with puberty and last through college.

Just make a list of your pleasures and the degree of permission you feel. Or maybe you want to begin with degree of guilt/shame you feel and how you deny or avoid your pleasure. Is the pleasure just potential pleasure, unrealized to it’s fullest because you are not quite sure it’s okay? I have a long list of potential, unrealized, I-don’t-deserve pleasures.

What I like about Sue Ann’s wise council is that she takes childhood angst out of pleasure while keeping and deepening childlike wonder and delight. She does this by encouraging a conscious and creative attention to quality and beauty.

Pleasure is not about deserving or being good enough for a reward. The wisdom of adulthood, a morally mature life, includes, no, requires, personal pleasure. Give yourself permission.