We Desperately Chase Success A

Success And Pleasure

We Desperately Chase Success A

Success And Pleasure Instead Of Happiness

The more pleasure we enjoy, The more we chase

The ultimate purpose for all of us is to lead a happy, healthy, and meaningful life. We often feel that it’s the success that leads to happiness. And that if we have wealth and other material goods and comforts, then we can achieve happiness in life. To begin with, let’s clear few widely held misconceptions about success, happiness, and pleasure. First is the idea that happiness comes with success, those who are successful in life are happier compared to those who haven’t succeeded or will not succeed. Second, there is little to no difference between happiness and pleasure, that happiness is nothing more than sensual and pleasurable feelings. For instance, many see exotic resorts, nightclubs, expensive liquor, gourmet meals, and traveling to the finest places in the world as potential happiness-makers. Those who think on these lines are wrong.

One of the main drivers behind these misconceptions is our highly materialistic world, where wealth, status, power, and material goods are central to modern culture. While pursuing success, we generally overlook those things that give us genuine happiness, so, we naturally end up becoming more unhappy. If we chase after material happiness then we are grossly mistaken. It’s a common misconception that if we have plenty of money or achieve professional success or get true romantic love or own a nice bungalow and so on so forth, then we will be happy for a long time. Ironically, this sentiment is wrong. The material things alone can’t help us in becoming happy and content. It’s in fact, the other way round, we may even end up becoming more unsatisfactory and getting frustrated.

Various studies have indicated that compared to our ancestors, we have become in general more unhappy. The reason is simple and straight: hunter-gatherers were living on a day-to-day basis. Their main imperative for survival was to forage for wild plants, seeds, fruits, and berries, and to hunt animals. It’s believed that there was no competition among them as available resources for consumption were plentiful. The lifestyle of hunter-gatherers required little planning for the future. Aside from the threat of wild animals and extreme weather events, there was little reason to worry or occasion for stress in their living style. Therefore, they were likely to have been happier than modern humans.

Regardless of whether we are successful or not, our primary aim would ideally be happiness and enjoyment of life to the fullest. However, our actions are mostly directed at becoming successful. There is often a contradiction in what we aim for and what we do in life. What is required is a fine balance and complementarity between success and happiness. This is achievable. We need to prioritize our personal and professional life.
We must have a good idea of where we can derive happiness, a sense of overall contentment, and satisfaction.

All around us, we see extremely “successful” people leading highly stressful and unhappy lives. They have all the money and comforts but hardly any time to enjoy them. No doubt, with success, comes wealth, material goods, and comforts, status in society, and more powers to enjoy. That’s the reason, we strive to be successful in life, in whatever way we may define success. Since early childhood, we were told (implicitly or explicitly) by our parents that it is the success that really matters in life. We were led to believe that without success, life is purposeless and that with it comes everything that is said to be good and meaningful for long rewarding life.
It’s an undeniable fact that success generally comes at a cost. It often leads to stress and unhappiness because of the demanding nature of successful positions. As we move up in the hierarchy, responsibilities and work pressure generally increase. We then either want to rise further on the ladder of success or we strive to maintain our present position; in both cases, the struggle creates stressful situations. Expectation also rises as we succeed.

Human nature is like that. We normally don’t feel contented with our existing life’s condition. Mostly, there exists a gap between the level of expectation and the reality we experience. Only occasionally do we hear about successful people giving much of their wealth to charity or donating for some noble cause. Otherwise, people can go to any extent to amass wealth through corrupt practices.
There’s no denying that money plays an extremely important role in our society. A mad race to generate and accumulate wealth is evident everywhere. It’s a harsh reality. Money is undoubtedly very important for us in at least clearing the way to happiness, but that’s true only up to a certain extent. Beyond the point of “enough,” money becomes counterproductive.

A life of physical ease, with plenty of money and comforts all around us, can indeed be pleasurable. However, pleasurable feelings, by their very nature, are fleeting. Temptations abound in this pleasure-driven world like the use of tobacco, consuming alcohol, drugs, and in today’s world, it’s the obsession of social media and the Internet.
This phenomenon is known as the “hedonic treadmill”. In its extreme, it becomes outright addiction. Those who smoke or drink must be familiar with it. To maintain their pleasure, they need to increase their dose (of nicotine and alcohol). Few can resist it because the cause lies in our brain – especially in its secretion of one specific biochemical, which is known as dopamine.

Whenever we are stressed, unhappy, and in a depressed or distressed mood, we feel a need for immediate relief, to relax, and to be happy through pleasurable feelings. Studies have now established that the release of dopamine is occasioned not only by pleasure but also by the mere anticipation of pleasure. In fact, the anticipation of pleasure leads to the release of dopamine, even more, compared to the actual experience of pleasure. We are more excited when we plan for an exotic trip to Europe, but when we actually reach there that level of excitement vanishes soon.
The only way to step off the treadmill is to be aware of the difference between pleasure and happiness, how neurotransmitters in our brain incline our behavior toward pleasure, and to recognize the mechanics behind that treadmill. The earlier we interrupt the cycle, the easier it is for us. You may be surprised to know that many have started ‘dopamine fasting’, to abstain temporarily from pleasurable activities like sex, porno, alcohol, tobacco use, and social media so that we enjoy more of those pleasurable feelings, once we restart experiencing them.

As long as, we ensure that our pleasurable activities are under checked and don’t lead to their excess use, there is no harm in enjoying the same. Those moments will, in fact, add spice to our happy life. Therefore, life can be filled with a range of pleasurable and joyous experiences. Short pleasure events are among the essential ingredients of leading a happy and joyful life. Pleasure is nothing but the short-lived feeling of intense happiness. Humans who have evolved would not have survived without the inner sunshine of joy, pleasure, love, and happiness. Even in extremely adverse and painful situations, positive emotions like happiness, pleasure, love, and joy, all together, give us the strength and the purpose of life.

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Balvinder kumar

I am retired IAS officer and writer of books and doing work for mind therapy.

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Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis das ist wirklich iste natus.