What Makes Us More Happy Than Love?

Imagine you buy a secondhand desk off Craigslist for $150. You’re disappointed that it doesn’t fit through your door but you’re handy, so you pull out a screwdriver and begin taking apart some of the pieces. Then to your surprise, you find a bag inside. Thinking the owner must have left some candy wrappers behind, you open it. To your shock…

There are N.I.N.E.T.Y. E.I.G.H.T. T.H.O.U.S.A.N.D. D.O.L.L.A.R.S inside that desk that is now yours.

What would you do?

On To Level 3 Pleasure, Economy Class

In our quest to be happy, there are many pleasures we can attain – different classes in which to fly through life.

We spoke about level 5 – hanging on by a rope, the simple pleasures of materialism that money can buy, and we understand that more money buys more possession and opportunity, more sweat brings greater accomplishment, and more risk can mean greater gain.

Then we moved to level 4, the baggage compartment – love, something for which we’d give up every level 5 pleasure to obtain. That we admire those who sacrifice themselves out of love is no more evident in the Western obsession with Romeo and Juliet, considered the ultimate symbol of heroism.

Nathan Hale, an American patriot, is famous for saying, “My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country.” Why did he say this?

What is worth sacrificing not just level 5 pleasures, but also the level 4 universal pleasure of love? What is that something that is greater?

Level three is Meaning. Also known as “doing the right thing”.

We all know this instinctively and that’s why we live our whole lives trying to feel good about ourselves – shopping at Amazon Smile instead of Amazon.com, buying from eco-friendly companies, and signing petitions to grant clemency to a death row inmate or to avoid building a pipeline through sacred grounds. In obituaries, we write about a person’s life’s meaning – the charities donated, teams coached, causes supported. We know that being good, living with meaning, is better and more pleasurable than living with material wealth and even love.

For the pleasure of feeling good, of doing what’s right, we’re able to give up levels of pleasure 5 and 4 – and if that is the extent of the pleasures we know, then our very lives.


But it’s not easy.

Remember what we said about effort? The more pleasurable the experience, the more effort is needed.

An Olympic athlete feels more pleasure in a victory than a college athlete, and a couple in love after 40 years feels more pleasure than a couple in love for 5 years.

Level 3 is much harder to experience than the lower levels! How often do we complain that the right thing to do is too hard? That we’re not up to it, it’s for other people? It takes so much from us to do the right thing, to make a meaningful choice.

That’s why most people don’t ever reach level 3. They content themselves with levels 4 and 5 – pleasures indeed, but the pleasure of level 3 can far outdo 4 and 5 as soon as the right amount of effort is put in.

What Would You Do?

If you found $98,000 in a desk you just bought online, what would you do?

Well that depends. What level of pleasure are you aiming to reach?

This story did, in fact, happen to one young man. He was aiming for a higher level than pleasure 5. He was actually aiming for level 1 – which we’ll discuss in an upcoming post. But even if the highest you aim for is level 3, most people would agree that it would still mean calling the previous owner to return the money. And that would be very, very hard.

But wouldn’t you feel incredibly cool if you RETURNED $98,000?! If you gave up that Cadillac, Bahaman vacation, and down payment on the yacht? Wouldn’t it feel right?

Yes, level 3 requires more out of you than the previous levels. How hard would it be to give up the opportunity for those dreams just because it’s right?!

But the pleasure of giving away $98,000 – that’s a pleasure beyond compare.

How can we enjoy third class pleasure?

Level 3 is very different from the previous levels. It isn’t about everyday pleasures and effort anymore. It’s far more fundamental.

You need to make it a part of your life. You need to get to know yourself.

What are you willing to die for?

That is what you are living for. That is what has meaning to you. That is what will give you third class pleasure.


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