Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.
~John Butler Yeats, 1909
Is there a difference between pleasure and happiness?
I had never really thought much about it until today. My husband sent me an interview by Dr. Robert Lustig, who just recently published a book on this very topic. He is actually quite well known for his stance against sugar and processed foods (which, as a side note, is something I wholeheartedly agree with) and it seems that this is where this topic stems from.
I encourage you to watch the interview HERE. But if you don’t have the time, let me summarize his main idea:
Pleasure is not Happiness. In fact, pleasure is the opposite of happiness. Pleasure can never lead to happiness.
Does this seem counter intuitive? Well, perhaps it is… until you understand the mechanisms in the brain that control these experiences. One experience is rooted in need and addiction; the other stems from satisfaction and contentment. Can you guess which one is which?
I’ll keep it simple, because this idea spoke to me today on very simple terms. Pleasure is a quick fix that leaves as quickly as it comes: it always leaves you longing for more. Happiness, on the other hand, is a state of being and can only be realized when you stop searching for that fix.