Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Unexpected Pleasure at Everyday Experience

Through many years,
At great expense,
Journeying through
many countries,
I went to see high mountains,
I went to see oceans.
Only I had not seen
At my very doorstep,
The dew drop glistening
On the ear of the corn.
-Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali writer

I read this poem in a book, and it really illustrated for me a psychological concept that I had recently read about. This concept has to do with the natural expectation system and its relationship with how we experience pleasure.

A certain experience can bring about a sense of pleasure, but the intensity of stimulus required for each subsequent experience will be more and more in order to experience the same amount of pleasure, especially as those events are experienced closer together. If one goes long enough without the experience, it will have the same pleasurable effect with little or no change in the required intensity of stimulus. So, theoretically, one could have a number of experiences that create pleasure, but spread out over time so that the intensity of the stimulus can remain the same and still provide a similar pleasurable effect.


It also seems to be the case that one can use his mind to focus on a stimulus that wasn't previously noticed. The novelty of a new environment is perhaps what provides us with a sense of pleasure when we take vacations, but what if we took the time to notice of our present environment, those things that fade into the background daily. It seems that as a kid, a small neighborhood could provide as much mystery and fun as an entire city might provide for an adult. In this sense, we really create our own pleasure by doing no more than looking a little closer than we did before.

-Taylor Baldwin

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