How many of us are “looking for happiness in all the wrong places?” (That phrase reminds me of the country western hit by Johnny Lee: “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.”) But this column isn’t about love and lost loves. It’s about understanding the difference between happiness and pleasure.
Happiness is an internally generated feeling of peace and satisfaction with life in general. Pleasure is caused by external events such as beautiful scenery, Christmas lights, the sound of rain, a bird chirping, buying something new, video games, arriving at your destination, winning the lottery, your team winning, eating s’mores, drinking spirits, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, and using fentanyl. These external pleasurable events are related because they cause the brain to release dopamine which creates a short-lived sense of elation or joy. Many of these events are addictive.