Pleasure vs Happiness

There is a mistaken belief that to be happy we have to indulge ourselves in luxuries and satisfy all our desires. To achieve this, we have an unquenchable desire to earn money by whatever means possible, rightly or wrongly. This is evident from the rampant corruption in our country and also by the fact that service oriented sectors, like health and education, have now become money making ventures.

By indulgence, we get pleasure and not happiness. The problem with pleasure is that it is always accompanied by pain, in other words, pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin. When we get what we want, we get pleasure and when that is denied to us, it gives us pain.

But happiness is not like that because pain does not accompany it. Many, many years ago, I heard someone who, in simple terms, explained the difference between pleasure and happiness. He said ‘anything from outside to inside is pleasure and anything from inside to outside is happiness’. Clarifying that, he said, when we indulge ourselves in eating, drinking, dressing, traveling etc, the resultant feeling is pleasure and when we help others by feeding them or by meeting any of their needs or by being of any service to them then the resultant feeling is happiness.

Keeping this yardstick in mind, and knowing that true happiness is always in giving, if we were to change our focus and try to be happy by giving rather than taking, then our society will undergo a marked change. Even though we have advanced a great deal economically and are on our way to becoming a super power, yet we have a large population living in poverty unable even to make two ends meet. So, if those who ‘have’ were to seek happiness by sharing a little with those who ‘have not’ then it will certainly be a win-win situation for all.

Every religion exhorts its adherents to share and care, and in it lies the true means of happiness.

Prophet Mohammad has said, “He who goes to bed with a full stomach while his neighbour sleeps with an empty stomach is not a true believer.” When it came to himself, he set loftier examples by going hungry himself making sure others had enough to eat.

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