Friday, June 23, 2006

Process vs Result Orientation & Pleasure

Lizard-Tree (c) Kayar Silkenvoice
"Invest in the “process” rather than the product. Process living neutralizes the depleting and impoverishing effects of chronically living in anticipation. Even when impossible goals occasionally are reached, satisfactions derived from them are invariably disappointing unless the process has given ample satisfaction along the way."--Theodore Rubin


Being process-oriented rather than product/results-oriented means that I get my enjoyment from being in the moment, from the 'doing'. I've become more and more process-oriented as I grow older, and I noticed a live-in-the-moment paradigm shift after so many loved-ones died suddenly and in such rapid succession. So many people living for tomorrow, living for the day they could quit their job or start their own business or stay home with their children or go on vacation or retire and finally do what they wanted... so many people waiting for a result or product before they could finally be happy and enjoy living... so sad when they put off living today in hopes they would live tomorrow... and then tomorrow never came. It was a powerful 'lesson'. It still shapes me.

I've become more focussed on doing what I am doing now very well, and taking enjoyment in it--which is why doing things like working for the SoCal office made me so nuts. I was unable to perform to my standards and I was rarely able to find enjoyment in what I was doing. Thus, I remind myself a bit of my friend T.I., a first-generation American of Japanese descent. She is never content for the end result of anything she does to be artful or perfect...the entire process has to be. I loved to watch her cook, paint, knit, even brush her hair. Everything she did was graceful and contemplative and the focus was on incremental improvement through repetition. But, T.I. does not like being rushed. She is capable of spontaneity so long as she is within her comfort zone. And she can be difficult to know and understand because her motivations are complex and internal while her ability to be satisfied appears so deceptively simple.

Running parallel to this train of thought is an expanding realization that Freud's Pleasure Principle, while valid when applied toward infants, becomes misleading when applied to adults---because his theories were based on the male pleasure model, and when it comes to pleasure, men get the short end of the stick. I've queried most of my friends, and I've decided that, as a general rule, men are results-oriented pleasure-seekers and women are process-oriented pleasure seekers. Men get aroused and orgasm, all very quickly. They want the big-bang, the ultimate superfeeling, and they want it now. Theirs is results-oriented pleasure. Whatever it takes to "get 'er done." Women get aroused, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, and orgasm usually takes time, but orgasm itself is not the ultimate goal. The pleasure is in the arousal itself, in the slow build of orgasmic tension and its slow decline. During sex a woman may not orgasm or she may, or she may do so many times, but the emphasis for her is actually on intimacy and the arousal process--on feeling good for as long as possible--not on achieving climax. Thus my assertion that women's pleasure is process-oriented.

This difference in the pleasure-seeking methods is the reason why there are so many problems between men and women, I think. I've had some frustrating conversations with men-friends about sex... One of them, particularly, discounts the feminine emphasis on physical pleasure. He is unconvinced that he could ever be "possessed by pleasure" as I am. He thinks that my extreme sensitivity to pleasure is related to my tendancy to dissociate emotion and sex. And he's probably right... But a lot of women talk openly with each other about sex, and I'm convinced that I'm on to something here. Men, both circumsized and uncut, do not seem to be able to relate to the levels of sensitivity to pleasure which a woman can achieve. Masters and Johnson reported more than 50 years ago that a woman's capacity for pleasure puts all men to shame. Its true. But documenting it doesn't seemed to have done much more than emphasize achieving orgasm for women--an emphasis that often makes men and women feel inadequate when it doesn't happen.

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