As humans we are psychologically motivated towards seeking pleasure and avoiding pain; pleasure referring to hedonic feelings of enjoyment, satisfaction, relaxation, comfort and excitement.
Hedonism has a neurobiological basis, since a surge of dopamine is released when we anticipate receiving a reward, which is crucially involved in motivating our behaviour. We have various “hedonic hotspots” in the brain that enhance our enjoyment for sensory rewards, and as such, pleasure seeking has evolved as a learned behaviour, or as we learn to repeat rewarded behaviours and reduce punished ones.
When hedonism is prioritised we tend to live in the moment, disengage from ongoing worries, and feel carefree. People whose lives are high in hedonic pursuits tend to feel greater levels of life satisfaction.
Whilst the specific activities that bring pleasure are subjective and individual per se, we are all ultimately driven to act in ways to strive to experience them. As such, it enhances our positive emotions and physical experiences in order to increase our well-being, maximise pleasure and overall happiness in life.
Want to learn more?
Read all the details, including how this value presents itself through who we are, what we have, do and need, in our Human Values Research Paper