Ricard: HAPPINESS AND PLEASURE: THE GREAT MIX-UP

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The most common error is to confuse pleasure for happiness.
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Pleasure, says the Hindu proverb, “is only the shadow of happiness.”
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It is the direct result of pleasurable sensual, esthetic, or intellectual stimuli.
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The fleeting experience of pleasure is dependent upon circumstance, on a specific location or moment in time.
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It is unstable by nature, and the sensation it evokes soon becomes neutral or even unpleasant.
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Likewise, when repeated it may grow insipid or even lead to disgust; savoring a delicious meal is a source of genuine pleasure, but we are indifferent to it once we’ve had our fill and would get sick of it if we continued eating.
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It is the same thing with a nice wood fire: coming in from the cold, it is pure pleasure to warm ourselves by it, but we soon have to move away if we don’t want to burn ourselves.
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Pleasure is exhausted by usage, like a candle consuming itself.
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It is almost always linked to an activity and naturally leads to boredom by dint of being repeated.
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Listening rapturously to a Bach prelude requires a focus of attention that, minimal as it is, cannot be maintained indefinitely.
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After a while fatigue kicks in and the music loses its charm.
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Were we forced to listen for days on end, it would become unbearable. .
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Furthermore pleasure is an individual experience, most often centered on the self, which is why it can easily descend into selfishness and sometimes conflict with the well-being of others.
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In sexual intimacy there can certainly be mutual pleasure through giving and receiving pleasurable sensations, but such pleasure can transcend the self and contribute to genuine happiness only if the very nature of mutuality and generous altruism lies at its core.
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You can experience pleasure at somebody else’s expense, but you can never derive happiness from it.
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Pleasure can be joined to cruelty, violence, pride, greed, and other mental conditions that are incompatible with true happiness.
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