Tasty food, sleeping in til late and a funny movie: nothing wrong with a bit of pleasure.
Where it goes wrong is if we equate comfort with happiness.
Because inevitably, after trying to fill ourselves with pleasurable things, we still feel hollow.
Where do happiness and pleasure differ, and can we have one despite the other?
“The more pleasure we seek,
the more unhappy we get.”
According to Dr. Lustig, a writer and endocrinologist, excess dopamine from pleasurable activities leads to addiction (and we all know that does not make us happy).
He also distinguishes between seven main factors (found here):
- Pleasure is short-term; happiness is long-term.
- Pleasure is visceral; happiness is ethereal.
- Pleasure is taking; happiness is giving.
- Pleasure can be achieved externally with substances;
happiness cannot be achieved with substances, only internally.
- Pleasure is experienced alone; happiness is experienced in social groups.
- The extremes of pleasure all lead to addiction.
However, there’s no such thing as being addicted to too much happiness.
- Pleasure is tied to dopamine (the pleasure biochemical/neurotransmitter), and happiness is tied to serotonin (the happiness biochemical/neurotransmitter).
“Sensual pleasures are like salty water:
The deeper you drink,
the thirstier you become.
Any object that you attach to,
Right away, let it go.”
Sense pleasures are a Buddhist term for anything that appeals to our base senses like food, drugs, sex, but not our higher being.
They are not necessarily bad, but to be enjoyed in moderation.
Giving in to attachments (or addictions as we call them) might feel like happiness, but it’s actually just the illusion of being in control of our lives.
We think we are treating ourselves, allowing a well-deserved break, but instead of using, we are being used by the external substance or behaviours.
Finding true happiness involves faith.
We need to trust that our first instinct is wrong:
Being comfortable does not make us happy.
It is not in extremes, but in ordinary moments
that we find true happiness.
Here’s a post on how to stop outsourcing your happiness.
How do you find your happiness and disengage from sense pleasures?