Finding life's pleasures: looking beyond chocolate

Published 20 October 2021
Dr Desiree Kozlowski

Dr Desirée Kozlowski is a well-known Southern Cross University psychology senior lecturer who invites people to think differently about what is good for them. Desirée joins the latest episode of the SCU Buzz podcast, discussing everything from gender harmony to the psychology behind swearing!

There has been an increase in people using mental health services since the pandemic started, and as the nation becomes divided on issues such as vaccines and lockdowns, Desirée shares how the human desire to want the absolute truth plays a part.

“I think what would be ideal is if we can all just understand that everybody's afraid. Everybody's suffering and there is no one true position. While we’re polarised, it’s just eating away at us even more,” said Desirée.

“Having a go at people in the other camp and digging in even more firmly, it's almost like we're clinging to the belief that our opinion is absolute truth and anybody else's opinion can be discounted. I think we have to accommodate a bit more nuance than that,” she said.

Desirée plans to conduct The National Pleasure Audit at the end of the year to learn what gives Australians the most pleasure. Her definition of pleasure encourages people to move from the front of mind pleasures, like chocolate, to looking at the finer details.

“An example that I often use is the pleasure of a warm shower. You can just walk into that room and have unlimited warm water that you can stand in. That's just so impossibly beautiful and luxurious. I think we often take things for granted that are actually wonderful,” said Desirée.

Desirée completed her undergraduate Psychology degree, Honours, and PhD at Southern Cross University. In 2009, Desirée commenced work at Southern Cross and has a true passion for democratising tertiary education.  

“I am here for students who don't know anyone who's been to university before, or Indigenous students, there are so few Indigenous psychologists in Australia. If I can facilitate the education for Indigenous students to come along and go out there and work with their own cultural understanding, that just means so much,” she said.

During the podcast episode with Desirée, a passing comment about swearing evolved into an elaboration on the fascinating psychology behind forbidden words.

“If you think about it, swearing is just a bunch of sounds. It doesn't have any particular power, except the power that we give it by making it forbidden. In the 1600s, one of the worst swear words was trousers!”

“Anybody that's learned to swear in other languages, it's hilarious because it means nothing to you because you don't have that cultural background, but it's so fascinating to see when other people react to you saying something,” Desirée said.

Tune in to the latest episode of SCU Buzz to hear more about Desirée’s research into pleasure and gender harmony, why change scares people so much, mental health during COVID, and the surprising outcomes of research into the psychology of swearing.

Media contact: Content content@scu.edu.au