Pleasure and Happiness








Although these two words are immensely different, they are used interchangeably. Disentangling their meaning helps to better understand why happiness eludes many people.



Pleasure is an enjoyment from something external such as a fancy car, winning a competition, stocks going up, a nice dinner out, flirting, and so on. These feelings of pleasure are dependent upon external events. In other words, it is temporary. Pleasure then is a carrot held out in front of people to chase. Running after this form of happiness feels like one gets a pleasure "high" and when that is not happening, there is an emotional low. The race keeps people locked into a pleasure/pain cycle.  


Generally speaking, we are a pleasure seeking society that does whatever it can to avoid pain. 



Happiness is a state of awareness. It is when we have become vulnerable, caring, kind, thoughtful, connected, loving and authentic people that happiness can arise from within.  People no longer have to strive to be happy because happiness is.



Jon came as a client because he was feeling anxiety and depression. He is an engineer who makes a good income. He feels pleasure when he drives his car, eats a good meal and notices that women are attracted to him.  His depression amplified when he was off work for two weeks due to an injury and could not get his pleasure "fixes". His anxiety was so high that he could not sit still in the office and would check his phone every time I turned around to get something. 


Jon is an example of a pleasure-driven person. He loves to have control over others and is known by his friends and family to be critical. He complains about many things but thinks he is just stating facts. He is performance-driven and judgmental of himself and others.  Jon has so much in his life, but he is always in a state of depravation. His happiness is fleeting. 


Over time, Jon worked on vulnerability, and being gentle, thoughtful and kind. He learned that happiness is a result of being in the present moment with kindness. He discovered how good it felt to let go of control and let the healing force of love in, and he achieved the shift he was seeking. 


Happiness and pleasure are worlds apart in meaning and how they play out in people's lives. Yet, many can’t tell the difference, and this leads to a life of seeking pleasure highs and avoiding emotional lows. Once we learn how to lean toward acting from our deepest values, respect, compassion, kindness and love, we can fall into a state of awareness that is real happiness. 


Challenge Enhancement 

True happiness awakens when we discover what beauty really is. Today, see if you can come up with a new definition beauty. Write it out and challenge yourself to be that form of beauty.