Enlightenment Attained: a Lesson in Happiness and Pleasure

How do you differentiate between pleasure and happiness? At the core of addiction, there’s often a fundamental misunderstanding of the two concepts. More appropriately, addicts will confuse pleasure for happiness. Pleasure is brought on by an external source and it only lasts a short time. Happiness comes from within yourself and is endearing. Those unfortunate enough to confuse pleasure with happiness fall victim to the Hedonic Treadmill. An endless crusade chasing drugs or sex or food. The feelings fade, and then the external source of pleasure is pursued again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s safe to say the food was my first addiction. I would eat because it provided comfort, it filled the void left by my insecurities as well as my lack of meaningful relationships. Who needs friends when you have an endless supply of sugary snacks, salty potato chips, and every video game a young child could ask for? From this young age, I found comfort in the pleasure of external stimuli, a recipe for disaster and addiction.

Neither sobriety nor happiness can be obtained through pleasure seeking or self-gratification, they are obtained through a commitment to a noble cause. Have you ever felt your life is a daily mundane routine, that you’re not on the right path, run down and depleted. As though your daily happenings are monotonous even pointless, and you constantly crave something more?

One solution to this insanity and that is finding a greater purpose. It gives us a reason to get up in the morning and to get out of bed. Focusing on personal gain can be motivating, but just like drugs, the satisfaction it offers doesn’t last. On the other hand, focusing on giving to someone else or contributing to part of a team is scientifically proven to provide us with a greater level of internal satisfaction. More importantly, this satisfaction is longer lasting when compared to when we only focus on ourselves.

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