In The Discipline of Pleasure, philosopher and change-management consultant James Bampfield calls for a new approach to living, one that is centered on finding pure enjoyment in life, joy in living. Critically reflecting on the work of thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham, Epicurus, Buddha and Freud, he suggests that we move away from the 'rigid truth perspective', characterized by either a focus on duty and obligation or on suffering and sacrifice, towards a more personalized way of looking at the world, one that values pleasure as a means to a happier existence.
His philosophy is that to be really happy, we need to accept the need for pleasure into our lives; suggesting that it is a fundamental element of our internal world, universally recognizable, offering us an immediate and tangible 'compass' by which to live. We say that we are happy, often without thinking too deeply; we struggle however, to acknowledge that we are experiencing pleasure, we seem to find the concept of joy more difficult to define.
Yet, the pursuit of pleasure is undeniably a postmodern concept and entirely relevant for today's society; the 'me-generation' is endlessly searching for the route to pleasure. Finding joy however, on a meaningful level in a consumerist world, with superficial distractions requires self-discipline, as well as truthful reflection and a developing awareness into what really offers the potential for pleasure.
In his Pleasure Typology, which outlines different levels of pleasure - ego pleasure, simple pleasure, soul pleasure and spirit pleasure - Bampfield suggests that the real source of pleasure in life may involve loving and serving others; simply changing the way we think about happiness, may have the potential to lead to greater self-fulfillment and a more self-aware, ethically conscious society.
James Bampfield is co-founder of Quinx Consultancy and is involved at the Academy for the Love of Learning in the USA. He delivers workshops and training, in addition to lectures on self-development and spirituality in the United States and Europe.