In our society, we spend a lot of time seeking pleasure. We work hard, and many times we want to play just as hard. Having fun and spending time with friends are great things, but those pleasure-seeking experiences don't always leave us feeling truly happy. Why is that?
The Difference Between Happiness and Pleasure
Pleasure is that momentary high we feel in the midst of a good experience: a fabulous meal, a hilarious joke, making love, and so on. It comes from an external source. It's a response to what's happening around us, directly affecting our senses. Unfortunately, this great feeling doesn't last beyond the good experience causing it.
Happiness is a long-lasting feeling that isn't directly affected by what's happening to us in the moment. It has some overlap with pleasure. For instance, if you go out for dinner with a good friend, you will experience pleasure from the tasty meal and the funny parts of your conversation. But you will experience happiness from sharing an evening with someone you care about and creating new memories together. The relationship brings you happiness. The act of sharing yourself with someone else, being open, listening to another person and being listened to, bring happiness. And that happiness lasts long after the meal ends, and you've gone home.
Transitioning Our Pursuit from Pleasure to Happiness
One of the big problems with chasing pleasure is that it's a bottomless hole we can never fill. As soon as the pleasurable experience ends, the feeling fades. We have to hurry to the next good experience in order to recapture that high again. We rush from one experience to the next-- more food, more money, more success at work, more things filling our homes-- in order to feel pleasure. Chasing pleasure can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol.
What if instead, we focus on happiness? Taking the time to invest in meaningful relationships with others, to share acts of kindness with those around us, or simply slowing down and finding ways to show gratitude for the good things in our lives can make a huge difference in how we feel. In fact, those things and other keys to happiness can boost our lasting happiness and joy.
Learn More About Happiness
Changing the way you think about happiness and pleasure can be overwhelming at first. The good news is you don't have to do it alone! I can help guide you step-by-step through a journey toward lasting happiness, joy, and energy. And it only takes a few minutes a day. My book, 21 Days to Happiness, will lead you through 21 days of practical life strategies that will increase your happiness, energy, and productivity.
Ms. Ingrid Kelada is a happiness expert in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She has worked as a psychologist for over 25 years. She is a speaker and has facilitated over 1000 workshops all over the world.
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