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Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. It's a common symptom of depression as well as other mental health disorders. Most people understand what pleasure feels like. They expect certain things in life to make them happy. Maybe you enjoy riding your bike, listening to the sounds of the ocean, or holding someone's hand.

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No matter the season, we all take part in the pursuit of pleasure, each in our own way. And although there's an art to enjoying life, it turns out there's science behind it, too.

It can be as simple as a sunset, as decadent as a dessert, or as extravagant as a weekend in Paris. But we all have our own little pleasures Professor Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University, notes that some pleasures are no less than a matter of survival.

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Berns said. So you have food, sleep, and sex. Pretty much boils down to that, if you're talking about actual pleasure," Berns laughed. But pleasure goes well beyond basic needs.

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But actually it is surprisingly deep," Bloom said. So deep, in fact, that Bloom was pleased to write a book on pleasure, which he says is as much about our brains as about our experiences. Bloom recalls one famous experiment with wine drinkers done by scientists at Stanford and Cal Tech And it turns out that if they think they're drinking expensive wine, parts of the brain that are associated with pleasure and reward light up like a Christmas tree.

I might give my dog premium dog food, but the dog doesn't care that I spent a lot of money for it. Given all that, Paul Bloom wondered what people might pay for the pleasure of owning, say, George Clooney's sweater? Bloom conducted an experiment where people were not allowed to tell people or boast about buying Clooney's sweater, or even re-sell it, and the perceived value was reduced. Now the value plummets. Some pleasures are universal, like eating the mouth-watering butter-and-sugar concoctions at Magnolia Bakery in New York City - it really is pure pleasure on a plate. But not all of life's pleasures are so straight-forward.

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In fact, if you think about it, some of them are downright weird. And some people love the stinky cheeses.

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And part of the pleasure of eating them is that they really smell bad, but they're good! Rozin's studies go well beyond the pleasures of the disgusting, to the joy of the downright painful.

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Take hot chili peppers Little babies don't like it. So, the question to me was, why would anybody put in their mouth something that produces a pain al from the mouth to the brain?

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His answer? What he calls "benign masochism" - the same human quirk that explains why we enjoy horror movies that terrify us I'm mastering this negative experience, and my mastery of it gives me pleasure.

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Similarly with roller coasters. People who love roller coasters will like the steepest and scariest one they can stand. Push your pleasure to that limit and - odd as it seems - odds are you'll want more.

What is anhedonia?

So what's the best strategy to maximize life's pleasures? Emory Professor Gregory Berns did an experiment that offers a clue: When he gave subjects alternating drops of water and juice, their brain activity showed they preferred the juice. No surprise. But when the juice came at unexpected intervals and was a surprise, they liked it even more.

The first time you experience something, whether it's your first kiss, your first bite of sushi, whatever you like, it's always the best, it's always the most memorable. So whether it's Clooney's sweater But remember: There's always room for something new - and people keep pushing the envelope, like bungee jumping.

The science behind pleasure-seeking

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