Why pleasure is better than pain for your wellbeing

by Nov 16, 2023Limiting beliefs, Psych K, Wellbeing0 comments

One of my very favourite foods is …. actually, pretty much everything – I just LOVE food. 

I’m a foodophile – I just made that up, but I’m trying to make the distinction that I’m a garden variety food lover, and not a foodie by any means.

Simple food, fancy food, old-fashioned food, modern food, unusual food, everyday food. You name it, I like it. 

I went through a phase in my teens when I decided it would be sophisticated and open-minded to give everything a try – offal, durian, weird-looking things I can’t remember the names of …  I’m pretty hard pressed to name a food I don’t like. Except for brains and snails 😱 (no offence to the French 🇫🇷).

So I was delighted (but not surprised) to come across this survey that found a connection between wellbeing and enjoying your food:

Across the globe, people who enjoyed their food were 1.29 times more likely to be thriving, according to Gallup’s measure, compared with others who did not mostly enjoy the food they ate. Individuals who said they had lots of choice were 1.45 times more likely to have higher wellbeing than those who did not say this.

This study is, to the best of my knowledge, the first in the world to use global data to clarify a strong correlation between food and wellbeing and provides significant findings for humanity,” said Yoshiki Ishikawa, the president of the Well-being for Planet Earth Foundation, which backed the research.’

But of course I wasn’t surprised to learn that there’s a correlation between how much people enjoy the food and their self-reported levels of wellbeing.

Here’s why:

Variety is the spice of life

‘Variety is the spice of life’ and ‘A change is as good as a holiday’ are two old English proverbs.  These days we say ‘Change it up’ but it boils down to the same thing – a bit of a change or variety offers us options and choices, and that contributes to a sense of agency, of having some control and being able to make decisions in our lives. Conversely, having little or no control, and dull repetition can feel so predictable that there’s nothing much to look forward to.

stress & wellbeing

Enjoyment and pleasure are pretty much the opposite of stress. It’s hard to be stressed and enjoy yourself at the same time. Whereas when you’re enjoying something, you’re focused on that activity or person or thing which means you’re not giving your attention to things that are stressing or worrying you. Stress negatively affects our mental and physical wellbeing, and that’s why it makes sense that people who report enjoying the food also report higher wellbeing.

So here’s the point – enjoyment is an essential contributor to our wellbeing. It’s not just about ‘doing the right things’ like regular exercise, good sleep or eating a healthy balanced diet.

    Of course those things are good for you and important components of a healthy, balanced life. But no matter how good those things are for you, if you hate them  or struggle with them, then you’re going to experience resistance and stress to a greater or lesser extent. And stress undermines wellbeing.

    On the other hand, if you’re mostly moderate in your habits, and above all, if you enjoy the things you do on a daily basis, you’re already giving your wellbeing a boost.

    That’s why it’s important not to see your wellbeing as a battle with yourself. Pressure, self-criticism, getting it perfect, comparing yourself to others … they all make the ‘healthy habits’ an onerous chore, another thing on your to-do list, another problem to overcome. Maybe even something else you’ve ‘failed’ at.

    The habits that stick are the ones that we enjoy doing and want to do. There are lots of way you can create healthy habits in your life in a way that makes them easy to enjoyable and easy to maintain. 

    If you feel like you never get it right because old subconscious beliefs about not being good enough are sabotaging you, then get in touch. We’ll reprogram your beliefs using PSYCH-K® so you can get rid of the ‘shoulds’ and find enjoyment in the everyday stuff that supports your wellbeing.

    Liz O'Brien

    Liz O'Brien


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