Monday 1 June 2009

From pleasure to happiness

A weekend morning… The eternal dilemma: turn over for another hour or go to the gym. I decided the gym was the better option because it reflected my commitment to myself to stay in shape, or moderately fit at the very least! There’s no doubt about it - it was harder to go out than lounge over a cup of coffee – now that is pleasure!

But the thing about pleasure is that it can be quite superficial and short-lived. While the pleasure and happiness undoubtedly overlap, there is a deeper sense of vibrancy and fullness that comes with happiness.

For me, happiness is deeper and more complex. It emerges when I stretch myself and I extend myself, not when I ‘give in’ or treat myself, as every second advert tells me that ‘I’m worth it’. While pleasure is seductive, I am beginning to find that when it is not connected a deeper happiness, it is a ‘thin’ emotion.

It’s a little like a perfume; the top note may include pleasure, but this can fade quickly. Only then do I notice the base note, this is where the richness and depth of the scent lives, uncurling after the pleasure has evaporated, for it is ultimately stronger and more resilient.

Nor does pleasure infuse others with its joy and delight. Happiness, on the other hand, lingers within and rubs off on others, simply because it is alive in us.

That was a bit of a leap starting with my gym torture but, to be honest, I’d never really seen it in those terms before writing this blog. It has presented me with an interesting lens through which to view other activities in my life: do they bring me fleeting pleasure or do they bring me more sustained happiness?

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