Posts Tagged ‘Pleasure’

More Than Chemicals: The Difference Between Pleasure and Happiness By John DiPrete

The experience of pleasure is distinct from the experience of happiness. Quite distinct.

With pleasure, a dopamine “spike” occurs in response to an acute momentary reward. The experience feels wonderful but depletes serotonin. The ultimate consequence of repeated rushes to this pleasure center leads to the loss of dopamine receptors in the brain. With the loss of neurons comes Tolerance: a situation in which more and more “hits” are needed to feel the same impact as before — or to feel anything at all. The result is addiction.

The dopamine neuron, or pleasure receptor, is identical in most pleasure centers; its exploitation in one addiction is often transferred to another (usually in the same individual). This is called Addiction Transfer. Transfers of addiction are epidemic in all kinds of substance abuse (such as opiates, sugar, alcohol, etc.) as well as digital obsessions (porn, Facebook, selfies, etc.). A person addicted to amphetamines, for example, becomes more susceptible to cocaine addiction.


In contrast to pleasure, happiness is a more resilient and healthier mental state. The long-term components of happiness are found in Connection, Contribution, and Coping. (Coping consists of three things: Sleep, Mindfulness, and Exercise.) The fourth component, Cook, means increasing nutrients such as tryptophan and omega 3 fatty acids, while reducing fructose or sugar.


Examples of these qualities (and tips related to them) are provided by Dr. Robert Lustig, an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco, who has explored the differencesbetween pleasure and happiness…


Connection. Connection is not about Facebook or personal text messages. It’s about real people in real communities. Making friends. Volunteering. Joining a choir. Contribution is not about rewards or merit badges. It’s about meaningful work, helping others, or accomplishing something (like volunteering).


The third component, Coping, is about Sleep, Mindfulness, and Exercise.

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