Hedonistic Thinking

Disordered characters place a premium on the pursuit of pleasure. They tend to crave stimulation and excitement and have an inordinate distaste for anything they might regard as boring, tedious or mundane. They’re committed to their comfort and hate being inconvenienced or burdened.

I’ve been posting a series of articles on the ways disordered characters tend to think. The kinds of problems these folks have in their relationships are a direct outgrowth of the “thinking errors” they engage in, so it’s helpful to understand their distorted thinking processes when we’re attempting to reconcile their problem behavior patterns. Some of the erroneous thinking I’ve addressed in prior articles include prideful thinking, egomaniacal thinking, impulsive thinking, and combative thinking:

But by far, one of the most common and problematic ways disordered characters tend to think involves what I refer to as hedonistic thinking.

Disordered characters place a premium on the pursuit of pleasure. They don’t do things unless there’s something in it for them, and they want that something to be sufficiently satisfying. They tend to crave stimulation and excitement and have an inordinate distaste for anything they might regard as boring, tedious or mundane. They’re committed to their comfort and hate being inconvenienced or burdened. They think that life owes them a good time and that a life without a steady stream of “highs” is a life not worth living.

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I cannot count the number of lives that have been wrecked by hedonistic thinking. This most serious error in thinking has sometimes propelled individuals to engage in the most reckless thrill-seeking behaviors. Over time, this kind of thinking also tends to lead people to develop an attitude of extreme intolerance for pain or discomfort. Now, certainly there is some pain that enters our lives that seems to serve no useful purpose. But a lot of what we find uncomfortable or painful has some really potentially positive and constructive benefit. Being willing to bear discomfort in the short term for what is likely to be a longer term payoff is one of the main keys to a mature, healthy lifestyle. But attitudes of patience, endurance and tolerance are almost impossible to cultivate if we’re constantly focused on what will titillate us in the moment. Hedonistic thinkers are simply at war with anything that doesn’t feel good. They can’t find any value in things that even for a short while cause any kind of distress. In my work over the years with disordered characters, I focus quite a bit on guiding them toward increased tolerance of the mundane, as well as encouraging them to cultivate the will to bear discomfort. Such work is absolutely crucial to the development of a healthier character.

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