Purpose of life: Pleasure vs Happiness

There is a brilliant book I have been reading, from which I wanted to share a few thought provoking lines:


“…we need to begin our story with an exploration of the most basic of
all mysteries: the question of what life is all about.

Very often, in both human and animal life, the rewards of pleasure are not immediate.

Pleasure requires work, effort, skill development, and risky competition. Why bother, particularly if you can’t even be sure that your search for pleasure is on the right track? Sometimes the path to pleasure can be a long and winding road. What possible method of inducement is there to keep creatures paying the price? The answer to this question is both fascinating and monumental. Only very recently, scientists have begun to see that nature invented a secondary inducement system, a system of rewards and punishments very similar to pleasure and pain. We call these inducements moods, and they come in two basic types—happiness and unhappiness. These mood systems work in conjunction with the pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidance systems to encourage effective behavior.

Pleasure, at best, is an intense event designed to last for a few precious moments each day. The experience is limited, as the pleasure system quickly becomes exhausted.

The moods of happiness have a different purpose. Pleasure responses are the endpoints. The moods of happiness are the subtle reinforcing experiences along the way. Because they must act over much longer periods of time than pleasure, the moods of happiness are not nearly so time-limited.

What is happiness? Happiness is the feeling that results from the activation of positive mood mechanisms. It is a possibility of your every waking moment, but it can never be the experience of every moment.

Happiness is the result of a feedback system that is the most important component of life satisfaction. People experience the moods of happiness when making progress toward worthwhile goals.

Happiness is not a final destination. It is not a place you can find, and then stay forever. It is the temporary and repeatable consequence of a process and comprises a diverse set of mood states that signal that we are on the right track.


PS: This post is specially dedicated to my newest friend Justina, who lives in Germany. She has inspired me to blog REGULARLY AGAIN! Ours was a chance encounter via someone I highly respect, and that is how we connected.

PPS: Dear Justina, thank you for your warmth and kindness 🙂 You are amazing!

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