How to Reduce the Pleasure of a Vice

Almost all of us have things in our life that we derive pleasure from in excess from the actual benefit they provide to our lives. Whether it is drinking wine, smoking cigarettes or eating chocolate there are elements of our life where we would actually like to reduce the amount of pleasure that we experience from them. By reducing the pleasure that we associate with these activities you will find it much easier to reduce or remove them from your life.

You need to identify what benefits or pleasure you derive from pursuing this activity. You want to take your time with this activity because you will often find that there are some hidden benefits that you will discover. To start write down the activity in the middle of a circle on a piece of paper. From this circle branch off writing down any benefit or pleasure that you gain from pursuing the activity. Think about these in the terms of the state that you gain from it. For example if you feel relaxed as a result of drinking wine then write down the result such as the feeling of a lack of stress.

For each of these states branch off and write down the benefits that you gain from being in this state. For example what are the benefits that you gain from being in a state of relaxation? Once you have a complete outline of all the pleasurable states and benefits that you experience as a result of this activity stand back and have a look at what you have written. This is essentially a map of the pleasure that this activity provides you.

Next examine these states and see which of them are the core drivers of the pleasure that you experience as a result of this activity. Which of these states provide the excessive pleasure that you are feeling as a result of engaging in this activity? Some of these states will relate directly to the basic purpose of the activity. Relaxation and loss of inhibitions might be seen as the core state of drinking wine. However something such as giving you a way to pass the time is not a core benefit.

Once you have done this you should think of an unpleasant outcome that will result of you engaging in this activity. If for example you are drinking excessively you might want to imagine the painful hangover you will experience. Try to visualise as much as possible the pain of this experience. When you feel one of the beneficial states starting to creep into your mind such as the desire to fill your time up instead imagine the painful state that will occur.

Step outside of your experience and assume the Metaposition. This is where you are an observer to yourself. Look at all the pleasurable states that you have written down which derive from this activity. Acknowledge that all of these states could in fact be felt without the activity that you are deriving excess pleasure from. Think of ways that you can experience these states without having to engage in the harmful activity. If you want to experience the state of relaxation for example you could instead practice meditation. Find alternatives that will still achieve the same pleasurable states.

Finally you want to test this out in the real world. You might want to see if your desire for drinking wine has actually reduced. If you find that the pleasure that you associate with the activity has not been reduced sufficiently then you will need to repeat the activity until you find that you have satisfactorily reduced the pleasure that you experience.

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