Happiness Vs. Pleasure-Can You Differentiate Between the Two?
Remember this…that very little is needed to make a happy life. — Marcus Aurelius
Does this sound like you?
“When I (fill in the blank)…I will be happy.”
If you answered yes, I want you to think about this next question.
Are you really ever happy for long?
In a society that reinforces pleasure at every turn, it’s easy to feel like we can never find true happiness.
We spend our lives stuck in the belief that we will be happy at some point…some time in the future. Unfortunately, when the future arrives, we prolong that date to the next “when I, I will…” moment.
The key to finding true happiness is to learn to set it aside from pleasure. It is then that true happiness can emerge.
So just what is the difference between happiness and pleasure?
Pleasure is linked to desire, and arises in response to having a specific desire fulfilled.
It can be the desire for anything from making more money to eating that piece of chocolate cake you crave.
Happiness is a state of contentment not based on desire.
It is rooted in the present moment. Future desires and needs are not contingent on how happy we are right now.
Pleasure is a short term thing. But happiness is a constant. The two are not related, but we often think that they are.
Don’t get me wrong…there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking pleasure (as long as it does not cause harm to ourselves or others). However, we must seek happiness as a constant state aside from pleasure.
So how do you do this?
To find happiness aside from pleasure, we must learn to see pleasure for what it is. Pleasure is simply a short term, positive feeling. It is not right or wrong.
The problem lies in that we tend to cling to pleasure.
We don’t want to lose that good feeling. This is why we always want more of whatever it is that gives us pleasure.
The key to detaching from this need for more is to experience pleasure fully without clinging to it.
We must enjoy it and then let it go.
This isn’t easy to do. You see, even when we realize that pleasure isn’t happiness, we still tend to believe that happiness comes from external conditions and situations. In part, this is because everything (including us) is impermanent.
In addition, our thoughts still lead us to believe that happiness is something we can get from somewhere, sometime in the future.
This is where mindfulness comes into play.
Happiness is found in understanding that we can only inhabit the present moment. In the now, we find the true happiness we seek. Mindfulness is literally being in and appreciating the present.
In closing, I want you to think about this…
Happiness is simple, silent, and subtle. It is there-hiding in the wings. It is within you today.
To your mindfulness,
Dr . Marchand