Fleeting Joys and Lasting Bliss: Navigating the Dance of Pleasure and Happiness

By | Editor

My friend and Partner Sreekanth K Arimanithaya shared a very thoughtprovoking article https://hbr.org/2018/11/what-kind-of-happiness-do-people-value-mostwhich triggers a debate about on Momentary Happiness (I call it pleasure) and Long Term Happiness. This triggered a debate within me. Here are my thoughts:

In the grand orchestra of life, both the exhilarating solos of instant pleasure and the harmonious symphonies of long-term happiness play crucial roles. While often confused, these distinct experiences cater to different dimensions of our well-being. Recognizing their unique melodies helps us compose a fulfilling life. While both play significant roles in our overall well-being, they cater to different aspects of our lives.

Momentary Pleasure: Fleeting Joys

Momentary pleasures are transient joys that come from sensory experiences or specific activities. These can range from the taste of a gourmet meal, the exhilaration of a roller coaster ride, to the relaxation of a quiet evening at home or at times sexual pleasures. These experiences are characterized by their immediate and often intense satisfaction, but their impact is typically short-lived. They are akin to bright sparks that light up our daily lives, offering immediate gratification and sensory delight.

The value of momentary pleasures lies in their ability to provide quick, often necessary, respite from the stresses of daily life. They act as refreshing breaks that can uplift our spirits, boost our mood, and improve our overall mental health. However, these pleasures can be double-edged swords. When pursued excessively or as a sole source of happiness, they may lead to unhealthy habits or a fleeting sense of fulfillment. They offer immediate gratification, uplifting our spirits and boosting our moods. However, like fireflies at dusk, their brilliance fades quickly.

Long-Term Happiness: The Journey of Fulfillment & Lasting Bliss

Long-term happiness, in contrast, is akin to a journey rather than a moment. It’s an enduring state of well-being that comes from a life lived in alignment with one’s values, goals, and aspirations. It’s a deep sense of contentment and fulfillment arising from living in alignment with your values, pursuing meaningful goals, and contributing to something larger than yourself. This form of happiness often stems from deeper, more meaningful sources such as fulfilling relationships, personal achievements, self-growth, and a sense of purpose or contribution to something greater than oneself.

This enduring happiness is marked not by fleeting sensations, but by a lasting sense of contentment and fulfillment. It’s the satisfaction of the journey itself, embracing both triumphs and challenges. Long-term happiness is often the result of hard work, resilience, and a commitment to personal values and goals.

Momentary Acts of Ommision & Commission

The pursuit of pleasure can indeed drive people to momentary acts of both omission (neglecting to do something) and commission (actively doing something), often due to the compelling nature of immediate gratification. Here are some examples to illustrate this:

  1. Financial Splurging (Commission): A person might impulsively buy an expensive item, like a luxury watch or a high-end gadget, driven by the immediate pleasure of owning something new and prestigious. This act of commission is spurred by the allure of instant gratification, even if it might not align with their long-term financial goals or budget.
  2. Overeating or Indulging in Unhealthy Foods (Commission): The immediate pleasure derived from eating delicious but unhealthy food can lead to overindulgence. For instance, someone might consume a whole tub of ice cream or a large fast-food meal, driven by the sensory pleasure it provides, despite knowing it’s not healthy in the long run.
  3. Procrastination (Omission): This is a classic example of an act of omission driven by pleasure. A person might choose the immediate pleasure of watching a movie, playing a video game, or browsing social media, over completing an important work assignment or studying. The pleasure comes from engaging in a more enjoyable activity in the moment, while omitting a less pleasant but more important task.
  4. Skipping Exercise (Omission): Opting to skip a workout session for more pleasurable and relaxing activities like lounging on the couch or hanging out with friends. Here, the immediate pleasure of relaxation or socialization leads to the omission of exercise, which has longer-term benefits for health and well-being.
  5. Social Media Overuse (Commission): The instant gratification from scrolling through social media, with its constant stream of new content and social validation (like likes and comments), can lead to excessive use. This act of commission is driven by the immediate pleasure derived from these digital interactions.
  6. Substance Use (Commission): The use of substances like alcohol, nicotine, or recreational drugs often stems from their immediate pleasurable effects. This can lead to acts of commission, where individuals consume these substances for the short-term pleasure they provide, often overlooking the long-term health consequences.
  7. Avoiding Difficult Conversations (Omission): Choosing not to engage in a necessary but uncomfortable conversation, perhaps with a friend, family member, or colleague. The immediate discomfort avoidance leads to the omission of a potentially constructive and important discussion.
  8. Sexual misbehaviors (Omission): can also be examples of actions driven by the pursuit of momentary pleasure, often leading to serious consequences. These behaviors are typically characterized by seeking immediate sexual gratification without regard for the moral, ethical, legal, or social implications.

These examples show how the pursuit of momentary pleasure can lead to actions (or inactions) that might not align with one’s long-term well-being or goals. It underscores the importance of balance and mindfulness in decision-making, considering both immediate joys and long-term benefits. Addressing such behaviors often requires a multifaceted approach, including education on consent and healthy sexuality, self-awareness, impulse control, and understanding the impact of one’s actions on others. In some cases, professional counseling or legal intervention may be necessary.

Finding the Rhythm: Balancing the Two

The key to a well-rounded, fulfilling life lies in balancing momentary pleasures and long-term happiness. While it’s important to enjoy the small, immediate joys of life, it’s equally crucial to invest in activities and goals that provide lasting satisfaction and meaning. This balance is not always easy to achieve and can vary greatly from person to person.

The key lies in finding your unique balance. This will vary from person to person, influenced by your personality, values, and aspirations. Be mindful of your choices, recognizing when instant pleasure might be leading you astray from your long-term goals.

Values & Character

Both pleasure and happiness are related to one’s values and character. The relationship between these emotional states and an individual’s values and character can be quite profound and multifaceted. are interwoven with an individual’s values and character. The way these emotional states are pursued and experienced can reflect and shape who a person is, their ethical standpoint, and how they relate to the world around them. Living in a way that is congruent with one’s values and character is often key to experiencing a fulfilling and happy life.

Beyond the Binary: Understanding the Nuances

The relationship between pleasure and happiness is far more nuanced than a simple binary. Sometimes, indulging in a seemingly “pleasurable” activity can have negative long-term consequences, like overeating or substance abuse. Conversely, pursuing long-term goals often involve moments of discomfort and sacrifice, yet ultimately contribute to lasting happiness.

Recognizing the distinct melodies of pleasure and happiness empowers you to compose a life filled with both fleeting joys and enduring fulfillment. By understanding their interplay and making conscious choices, you can transform the cacophony of daily life into a harmonious symphony of well-being, living a life rich in both the spark and the symphony. We can learn to savor the spark of momentary pleasure while remaining guided by the compass of our values and character, ultimately creating a harmonious symphony of well-being.

#happiness #wellbeing #values #character #fulfillment #meaningfullife #balance #mindfulness #growth #personaldevelopment

Republished with permission and originally published at 

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button