Pleasure is a Terrible Teacher

November 3, 2016

If you find yourself stuck between a rock and hard place, even though the situation absolutely sucks and everyone else seems to be living it up, know that it’s the best thing ever to happen to you.

Pleasure is a trap.
She’s a mercenary. And he (because it changes genders as needed to tempt us) will only lead us astray.

“Don’t do cocaine. Don’t race trains. And avoid all AIDS situations.”
– Charlie Munger on leading a long life

I’m not talking about good things like joy or happiness or contentment.

I’m talking about pleasure, the kind you get when you drink 6 captain and cokes, a couple shots of goldschlager, the right 90s hip songs come on, and you feel on top of the world. All your darts are hitting bulls-eyes. Every word out of your mouth is a gem and you’re the life of the party. This feeling will never end, we think.

I’m talking about the kind of pleasure you get when you pick stocks at random and no matter what you select, they all go up. A LOT. Like in the dot com bubble. I’m talking about the pleasure you get when no matter what dump of a real estate property you buy, it doubles in price, like during the real estate bubble.

When things are going well for everyone due to a general bull market, we get fooled into thinking we are doing something right.

“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”
– Warren Buffett

Alas, the next morning, Pain comes in somberly to do her work.

You flew too close to the sun again my child. How many times will I have to teach you to fly in the middle path. Unfortunately the medicine is gonna sting for a while, but she promises to patch you up so that you can fly once again. Luckily, most of us get many redoes in this life. Call it Divine Grace or Mercy.

It’s all about the fundamentals.
It’s all about discipline.

It’s all about staying on the path, with your head down, only focusing on your current step, no matter how many shiny things glitter off in the weeds.

“Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
– Proverbs 4:27

No matter how many siren songs you hear, you must keep on the path.


Order your men to plug your ears with beeswax and tie you down to the mast of the ship, like Odysseus wanting to resist those sirens.

Because the siren songs are too tempting. That new money making idea, that’s completely garbage. Just flush your cash down the toilet instead, which will be more fun. All those ads about how awesome las vegas is, what happens in vegas stays in vegas and such, throw your tv out the window so you don’t have to be tempted again. Because the only thing that stays in vegas is your hard earned cash.

Pain is a more faithful teacher.
She actually cares about you.

Only when you go broke do you learn personal finance lessons. Only when you get sick do you learn about health & nutrition. Only when your gums ache and bleed do you learn the values of flossing.

So if you’re experiencing pain right now, that’s a blessing in disguise. What doesn’t kill you will certainly make you stronger.

Don’t convince the delirious
Oh yea, and if you have some people around you experiencing absolute pleasure by not following the path, no amount of words you say will make them hear you. That’s the main thing I wanted to say.

“Words don’t teach, life experience teaches.”
– Abraham Hicks

You will be tempted to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to convince that delirious person to get back on the path. That will not work for them nor to me nor you. Once we’re seduced by the sirens, only Divine Intervention can do anything.

And don’t worry, the Divine will send out Pain once again to do her duty. And after a few beatings, the student hopefully will have learned his lesson. Let the delirious learn their lessons on their own time, like we had to.

Tied to the Mast
Image source – wikipedia