People just can’t seem to get enough of happiness. If it came in patches (like nicotine patches) most of us would cover ourselves in them.
But what exactly is happiness? Is it pleasure? Is it contentedness? Well…the truth is that there’s no clear answer to that question. As it turns out, there IS a difference between happiness and pleasure.
Happiness is the word used to describe the state of feeling happy. This is actually a state of mind rather than a reaction to something external. Its exact definition varies from person to person, but most people would agree that being happy is being as free from stress or sadness as possible.
Happiness comes from inside ourselves. Although material possessions can make us temporarily smile, it’s only our state of mind and our perspective that keeps us happy long-term.
This doesn’t mean that our lives need to be 100 percent perfect or filled with nothing but positive experiences. It just means that we need to be able to cope appropriately and see the brighter side of life.
Pleasure has been described as simply a feeling of enjoyment. While happiness can be long-lived, pleasure is fleeting and totally dependent on factors that are external. For example, if you have a meal that is scrumptious, you will certainly experience pleasure.
(Hello, cheesecake, we’re looking at you)
But when that meal is over, the pleasure you experience fades. Pleasure is simply an instinctual reaction to something that happens externally.
If you want to maintain pleasure, you need to continuously engage in activities that inspire and motivate you. This just serves to highlight that pleasure has a short life while happiness lasts for much longer.
So, let’s wrap up the differences:
Happiness is a state of being as opposed to a reaction. It has a long life-span and is internal/introspective. Taking away any external factors won’t instantly end happiness permanently, though it can wax and wane sometimes.
Conversely, pleasure is a feeling of enjoyment that you get from something external. It is only momentary and goes away when the experience does. Once the source goes poof, your pleasure goes poof, too.
Both pleasure and happiness serve an important role in our lives, so don’t be afraid to seek out and enjoy them. Just be sure you recognize the difference between the two!