28 Sep How to create real happiness instead of just enjoying pleasure
Happiness can be, and has been, defined in so many ways.
For some, happiness is enjoying the moment. For others, happiness is having fun, seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, helping others and so many more varieties.
But real happiness; well that’s deeper and longer lasting. And here’s how you can create real happiness rather than just short term or superficial pleasure…
via Well and Good by Erin O’Connor
Depression is on the rise in the United States, particularly among teen girls. According to Robert Lustig, MD, MSL, and author of a new book called The Hacking Of The American Mind, a main culprit is society’s addiction to the rush that dopamine, a neurotransmitter which helps to control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, can bring when triggered by things like social media, sugar and alcohol. With each sip, snack, or double tap, you get a quick mood boost.
But while these dopamine hits feel good in the moment, they’re also suppressing the serotonin in our brains, the chemical responsible for feelings of calm and satisfaction. Put another way, indulging in these pleasurable activities is actually making us unhappier in the long run.
If you’re confused about the difference between pleasure and happiness, you’re not alone. Dr. Lustig says the two ideas have been conflated just about everywhere, to some extent by design. Corporate America, he argues, has been selling us pleasure disguised as happiness for some time now—think Happy Meals, happy hour, and the smiling emojis we use to tell our friends we like what they do.
Corporate America has been selling us pleasure disguised as happiness for some time now—think Happy Meals, happy hour, and the smiling emojis we use to tell our friends we like what they do.
Dr. Lustig offers a rubric for determining whether that rosy feeling you have is happiness or pleasure: “Pleasure is short lived, happiness is long lived; pleasure is visceral, happiness is ethereal; pleasure is taking, happiness is giving; pleasure can be achieved with substances, happiness cannot be achieved with substances; and, finally, pleasure is experienced alone, happiness is usually experienced in social groups.”
So, how do you stop trying to find happiness in the very things that are sabotaging your odds of achieving it? Eradicating every dopamine-inducing behavior Dr. Lustig outlines is not only impossible, but unnecessary—dopamine and serotonin don’t have to be mutually exclusive. So instead, Dr. Lustig suggests that those in search of lasting, solid happiness focus on what he calls the four Cs.