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Pleasure vs. Happiness vs. Contentment - your thoughts please :-)

Hi everyone, regular reader, occasional contributor, first time poster here... Just published a blog entry today about the above, and a few people who have no interest in Buddhism or the Dharma have disagreed with my thoughts on the matter, principally that pleasure is fleeting and sensory-based (dependant on the senses), overt happiness (which we all tend to strive for on some level) is fine but a deeper sense of contentment and equanimity is surely both a more realistic and achievable goal than "happiness", with its western emphasis on getting the right car, job, partner etc. Also, a stiller sense of emotional positivity will allow the mind to be more malleable and can lead to more refined thoughts and reflections...

I'm aware that there is a happiness in contentment etc and visa versa, but I think what I was trying to convey was more about the quality, the flavour of our experience, rather than the term we use to describe it... My thoughts (well, hardly my thoughts, but you know what I mean) being that if we bring more awareness into our lives we will notice more of the little things that can lead to calmness, serenity, a deeper sense of fulfillment and greater sense of emotional positivity and wellbeing. Also, as a sufferer of chronic back pain, im not sure its possible for me to be overtly happy all the time, but I can be in pain and still live a rich life with a sense of initiative and emotional well being in spite of it :-)

Just wondering if anyone has had similar thoughts, or wants to point out new angles etc - I for one am here to learn from others, not here to be right or here to play "Rimpoche" ;-)

if you are interested in the article itself, please feel free to have a read - bout 5 min should do it.


Sending you all so much metta and gratitude for all your contributions, perspectives and support,

Jay (The Dharma Farmer)



  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 2013
    I agree that finding the right "everything" is impossible because the nature of mind is to not like, say, heat or cold. Exactly as you say there are deeper resources.
  • BarraBarra soto zennie wandering in a cloud in beautiful, bucolic Victoria BC, on the wacky left coast of Canada Veteran
    I agree. There is a subtlety to the difference between happiness and contentment that non-Buddhists may not get.
  • Good Blog entry.
    Organizes and expresses our understanding when we reveal our present fleeting moment in a blog, thread or written diary. It gives us insight into the complexity and issues arising in the mind.
    Pain that you mention is a hard one. The most I can offer in this regard was a day I awoke feeling unhappy for a reason I could not discern, I later found it was physiological but that is another story . . .
    Anyhow, I looked at the essence, the physical nature of the experience and said 'how is this different in essence to happiness?' Strangely they were very similar, being mostly devoid of anything real. So I called the unhappiness, happy, smiled at it, knowing it would pass. There was still an unpleasant unease but so too was I 'happy' enough to not be bothered by this situation.

    Anyway back to the happiness. Thanks for sharing.

    Happiness is a field of grain
    Turning its face to the falling rain
    I can see it in the sunshine, I breathe it in the air
    Happiness happiness everywhere

    A wise old man told me one time
    Happiness is a frame of mind
    When you go to measuring my success
    Don't count my money count my happiness

    Ken Dodd - Happiness lyrics
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited September 2013
    I was once swimming in the Mediterranean when I noticed some beautiful fish a few yards in front of me. They were silver and gold and reflected the sunlight shining through the shallow water.
    I tried to get a closer look..but each time I moved forward they moved away, always keeping the same distance from me.
    Eventually I decided to let them be and to just enjoy the warm blue water and sunlight. I floated on my back..suddenly I felt a tickling sensation.
    Because I had stopped moving towards them the fish had decided to investigate me..
    Happiness and fish are elusive...but sometimes if you are still enough and relaxed enough they come to you.
  • oceancaldera207oceancaldera207 Veteran
    edited September 2013
    You know, I think no matter how successful we are in society, those nagging questions about meaning, about suffering, about death... They dont go away. Like a shakespearian specter... they haunt you in the dark corridors of your life.
    If you never really make a real attempt to find the answers...there will be something missing. Of course, this involves having the courage to voice the questions... the vulnerability you experience then is no small matter.

  • This post's title kind of summarizes the whole issue if one removes the "please" :)
  • happiness differs from one person to another. what may cause you happiness may not be so with another. different folks, different strokes. as long as the happiness that one has didnt rob off of someone else's happiness...then i say that is happiness.
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