Happiness versus Pleasure

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the difference between pleaure and happiness. Furhtermore, I would like to encourage you to evaluate the two options independently, and exhort you to make choices based upon what you are truly seeking. This discussion is based upon the presupposition that we are beings who fundamentally seek happiness.

The difference between pleasure and happiness

Happiness is a sense of inner contentment. It is a positive state that tends to remain with us over time, and irrespective of the challenges that confront us, and the circumstances that impact upon our lives.
Pleasure is more transient, and more about factors impacting our emotional state in a particular moment in time. Sex is a pleasurable activity, whereas happiness may be found from a strong sense of inner worth that often accompanies the affection of others.

Simply put, pleasure is something that we experience, while happiness is part of who we are.

Do we seek pleasure or happiness?

Human beings generally move towards happiness. While short term gratifications tend to be attractive, when faced with the choice between a short term pleasure, and a long-term pleasure, most people will tend to choose the sustained experience, even where the intensity of the emotions are reduced. That we move towards happiness seems ingrained through very early socialisation processes.

How we can use this?

When faced with multiple alternatives, we can consider whether the various courses of conduct lead to happiness or pleasure. For example, in my early 20’s, I considered working for a multinational consulting firm. The offer was attractive, and would entail many personal and professional benefits. I would have worked fewer hours, and enjoyed a superior income. However, I realised that to do so would require me to turn my back on my entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations – to admit defeat. Instead, I decided that I should work on my businesses, hoping that they would return on the scale that I felt that they eventually would, and knowing that to abandon my dreams may have brought short-term pleasure, but would have inevitably have led to the loss of happiness.