Happiness vs. Pleasure: What the Difference Means To You

(HealthyAccess) – What’s the difference between happiness and pleasure? It really comes down to long-term wellbeing versus instant gratification. Happiness is built on a series of long-term life choices we make, while pleasure is fleeting.

Developing an underlying sense of happiness involves making choices that are right for us, rather than ones that make us feel good temporarily. If that seems confusing, let’s break it down into examples.

The Difference Between Pleasure And Happiness

Happiness and pleasure may seem like different sides of the same coin, but when we think about it, there are actually significant differences.

Pleasure is an immediate experience. It could be taking a bite of a delicious dessert, enjoying a sensual experience, or even wrapping up in a fluffy, warm blanket on a chilly day. Happiness, on the other hand, is a more lasting condition that doesn’t come from external factors.

Filling up our online shopping cart with objects we desire may feel pleasurable. We may even have a sense of pleasure when the items arrive. However, if we put ourselves in debt in the process, overextend our budget, or make our financial situations more tenuous, this decision could bring immediate pleasure but ultimate unhappiness.

An unhealthy behavior like an addiction can add physical pleasure while subtracting from our overall happiness. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean that it is good for us or will enrich our lives in any way. Being able to tell the difference between an unhealthy pleasure and an action that will bring us happiness can be a powerful part of decision-making.

Beginning a new exercise regimen may not seem immediately pleasurable, but it could increase our endorphins and help us feel a sense of pride and achievement. While there may not be short-term pleasure when we’re sweating it out, it could contribute to our overall happiness quotient. We may prefer eating an entire pizza while binge-watching the latest streaming series, but being able to recognize that making an effort now could help us feel happier later is a way to invest in our health and prioritize happiness over immediate pleasure. The occasional pizza-and-streaming night can be a treat we enjoy while we also prioritize eating healthy and staying fit.

In The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama said, “True happiness relates more to the mind and heart. Happiness that depends mainly on physical pleasure is unstable; one day it’s there, the next day it may not be.”

The difference between pleasure and happiness is a powerful one. We can focus on having as many pleasurable experiences as possible, but without considering our happiness, we could actually destroy it. In turn, by prioritizing happiness over pleasure, we can enjoy healthy pleasurable experiences while making sure our focus remains on overall happiness. When we shift to this perspective, we’re more likely to make choices that are good for us rather than just the ones that always feel good.

~Here’s to a Happier, Healthier Life!

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