I assume so. The pursuit of happiness is such a strong human characteristic that the founding fathers saw fit to guarantee it in the Declaration of Independence (my apologies to our non-American Joyriors). Yet so many of us live with the sweat of the pursuit and never reap the reward; some of us give up on ever finding real happiness. That’s tragic.
I can’t make you happy. No one and nothing else can. But you can. I hope that this and the next few posts will help you understand happiness so that you can better attain it. After all, did you notice this is a Joy Blog??
Pleasure gives us happiness.
The feeling of seeing a loved one succeed, opening the gates at a children’s carnival you sponsored, eating a good Thanksgiving dinner, seeing others enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner we prepared, listening to our favorite band, dancing – these are all pleasures that make us happy.
Pleasure gives us energy.
When we’re happy, we have mental energy that can boost our physical energy. We see that an exhausted runner finds the energy to high-five his partner at the marathon’s end. Measuring our energy when we experience something can tell us how much pleasure we got out of it and how happy we are with that experience.
Pleasure is not the same thing as comfort.
People often assume that the opposite of pleasure is pain but that’s not true. You want proof?
What is the average parent’s greatest pleasure in life? Their child.
And what is their greatest pain? Probably also their child.
So you see – pain and pleasure are not contradictory. In fact, we often find that like a price tag, the more pain/effort we expend on something, the more pleasure we get out of it. Olympic athletes feel insanely great after a game – not only because they got up there and played, but because they spent years training and practicing to reach that moment. They sweated and ached but they persevered and when they reach their goal of competing in the Olympics, they feel incredible pleasure.
So what IS the opposite of pain? The opposite of pain is comfort. Comfort means no pain and doing nothing but a vegetative patient can be comfortable and still experience no pleasure. If we want to be happy, we have to be ready to experience some pain to feel pleasure but we also need to be able to choose to FOCUS on the pleasure, the reward for the pain. If a ballet dancer only focuses on her bloody toes, she’ll never become the prima ballerina. In all areas, if we keep our eyes on the ball, we can win the game.
Let’s be joyful 🙂
In the next post, we’ll discuss the Five Levels of Pleasure. I can’t wait to hear what you think about them.
Oh, and I must give credit where it’s due. What the Angel Taught You by Noah Weinberg and Yaakov Salomon is an incredible source for finding happiness and fulfillment in life. Many thanks to Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein for making me aware of this book and its teachings.
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