Project Happiness Handbook
Pleasure vs. Happiness

1. Opening: Mindful Moment

Get inspiration here (PDF link)

2. Inspiration

Short-term happiness can be defined in different ways: meeting our needs, tending to our comfort, getting what we want, experiencing pleasure, or achieving short term goals. Although meeting our needs and desires can give us feelings that are often quite pleasurable, they tend to be short term and eventually fade. We feel our mind and senses responding to that pleasure or comfort and we call it happiness. Once we satisfy that craving, we might feel blissful or have a sense of well being, but this feeling is temporary. Soon, the craving returns.

Another example would be the exhilaration we feel when buying something new, e.g., great shoes, the newest technology release. But after the pleasure of having this object fades, we desire something else. The idea here is that happiness that depends on external objects or attainment of immediate desires will only bring temporary satisfaction. Then, when we find ourselves wanting something new, which we often do, we repeat the process.

We end up creating a never-ending cycle as we constantly search for more objects and increasingly intense experiences that satisfy us, only temporarily.

3. Reflection or Challenge

Define what happiness is for you. Make a list of things, experiences, etc., that make you happy. Reflect on this list: Which offers short-term pleasure, and which contribute to longer-term happiness? Choose one of the long-term happiness strategies below and practice it daily over the next week. At the end of the week notice how you’re feeling!

Six Happiness Tips from Tal Ben-Shahar, author and lecturer at Harvard University who teaches the course “The Science of Happiness”:

  1. Give yourself permission to be human.
  2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning.
  3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind.
  4. Simplify!
  5. Remember the mind-body connection (taking care of ourselves physically affects us emotionally).
  6. Express gratitude whenever possible.

4. Closing: Appreciation

Close the meeting with an Appreciation Circle. Give each person a chance to say something they appreciate about the person to their left.