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Pleasure is not happiness

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In a fast paced world, quick results have become the norm. We want everything quickly done and we want to reap the fruits of whatever mini-investment we have put in a little something as soon as possible. Digitalisation has made everything instant and that has mostly added value to industry and business. That is aside from the inevitable hazard of minimising the demand for human labour and employment of course.

However, human beings have needs that go beyond instant productivity, instant rewards, and instant profits. In short, we have needs that cannot be met digitally. Happiness ranks highly as a human need and it greatly impacts the quality of life. Happiness is not something we should allow ourselves to compromise on.

I read an article on Business Insider a few months ago, about phones and how addictive they have become because of the pleasure we derive from them. Here are a few scientific pointers from the article written by Hilary Brueck and Samantha Lee titled This is why our phones are making us miserable; happiness isn’t the same thing as pleasure and our brain knows it:

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  • The brain chemical, dopamine associated with reward and motivation, is very different from serotin, associated with contentment and true happiness
  • You can’t get contentment from an app or from a purchase, but you can click or buy your way to a whole lot of reward and pleasure
  • The language difference between ‘happiness’ and ‘pleasure, is subtle, but the chemical difference is huge. These chemicals are the reason why our phones can feel addictive

The science aside, in simple terms, pleasure is fleeting, happiness is long term. We all know that achieving anything long term requires a greater personal investment and greater discipline and focus. While on the other hand, tech sometimes works the human mind like drugs and alcohol do (minus the painful physical withdrawal symptoms), it leads to a high and triggers the constant need for another high until it is an addiction.

Think about this, how ironic is it that many a time people give away happiness in the very quest for happiness because they choose pleasure over the things that can actually bring happiness. Now, the pleasure seeking rollercoaster does not stop and tech, it centres on a whole array of wants and desires that we have as humans. Unfortunately, we erroneously associate them with happiness when in essence they only provide pleasure.

A lot of people usually ‘sell’ with the promise of pleasure than happiness; the selling can be the usual products and services. But, intriguingly, humans also ‘sell’ themselves so the selling also extends to human relations. In our relations, connections and relationships, we are constantly selling to others what we think they want to hear, we constantly sell the things we can do that bring fleeting pleasure but do not lead to long term happiness and we wear the mask of happiness to convince others to join our happy circle that is actually non-existent; it is all just a pleasure and rewards jungle.

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The other culprit is Money, aren’t we all chasing that paper? We all want that paper. We need paper to survive. We need paper to meet the basic needs, food, clothing and shelter for ourselves and our families. And what comes beyond that? We want more and more. We all have that list of items we want to purchase when we get that paper. We want to have all those fancy things that will make us feel great about ourselves. We are all convinced when that paper comes everything will improve for the better.

But will it really? On the materialist side maybe, but happiness?

How many times do we hear of wealthy people caught in corruption and fraud traps trying to add millions to their millions or billions to their billions? You would think they would be content but they are not. Money will bring a great deal of pleasure but if it is your sole source of happiness and contentment, then all you doing is constantly seeking a ‘fix’ to manage an addiction; just another pleasure shot.

Also how many famed and wealthy people have committed suicide after living a life that gave them access to all the pleasures of life? Committing suicide is the epitome of unhappiness. One reaches a point of seeing no value in staying alive and imagine this being done in a fancy home, with all the fancy accessories by someone with a fancy name and fancy fans worldwide.

We need to move away from the quest for instant rewards. We need to seek within and recognise what our needs are versus our wants. We need to know what we are ‘buying’ when others sell and not confuse the needs that will meet in our lives. Our phones are facilities to ease productivity not the doorway to heaven. Money should not be our master, money should work for us. Our relationships and friendships should be authentic and balanced not pleasure seeking circuses.

I rest my case.

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