Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happiness vs. Pleasure

I've recently begun reading "The Art of Happiness".

The book itself is a conglomeration of speeches the Dalai Lama has given, talks he has had with the books author (a Western psychologist), and the psychologist's thoughts on the question of "what makes people happy?".

While I'm not comfortable mind-vomiting at length on the topic, yet, I would like to pose the question to whomever comes across this blog:

What is the difference between happiness and pleasure, to you?  Is that difference important? Do you find yourself more often pursuing one over the other and do you think it has affected your overall outlook on life?

So far, I've come to believe that there is a great, and possibly grave, difference between happiness and pleasure. Too often I find myself thinking "Oh, that will make me happy", when really, it is a simple thing of pleasure. That extra delicious and gooey chocolate chip cookie that came out of the oven after I've already had 2....pleasure.  That expensive beer that I've been dying to try? Pleasure.

So what is happiness, then?

A friend of mine hypothesized something about this topic that I think could very well be true. Happiness isn't in the accomplishment, happiness is in the process. (Thanks Margaret, I'll tell you more in the letter back!)

I agree because of situations such as this: when I graduated from college, did it bring me "great happiness"? Honestly, no. When I graduated college I didn't feel much. What about the process of learning throughout high school and college? I look back on that, and when I was stretching my mind, that was a time that I was quite happy.

Margaret brought up the concept of cooking/baking food. She and I think similarly on this matter and both sincerely enjoy the process that goes into making the food, almost as much as we enjoy eating/tasting it!

When I examine my current career, I continue to think that this may be true.  I am happiest when I am in the process of teaching. My job is a very "do-ing" oriented job, and I think that's a great reason why I love it. I love watching and encouraging the process of learning amongst my students.  I also get great pleasure from their post-assessments and seeing how much they have learned, but not nearly as much as I get day-to-day.

I don't think that we can really recognize happiness until we look back on it. In the moment, I think it appears more as contentment and then people get afraid that they are settling.  Humans, for some odd reason, seem to love drama.  Humans tend to like to fight the Tao concept of Wu-wei.....and perhaps that's okay. Perhaps the process of fighting the status quo makes some people happy, but once the battle is over and they've made their point - do they continue to be satisfied?

Like I said, elementary brain goo.  Still working on it. Also working on getting ready for bed, good night!


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