HAPPINESS and PLEASURE
Do you know the difference?
We live in a culture of pleasure.
Everywhere you turn, there is another opportunity to give yourself the feel goods. But are all the ” because I deserve it’s” actually NEGATIVELY effecting your happiness? The latest research says so!! The chemicals in the brain that have to do with Happiness and Pleasure are Serotonin and Dopamine, respectively. Ironically, flooding the brain with dopamine (pleasure) not only down-regulates Serotonin, it literally down-regulates the actual neurons in the brain. In other words, the neurons in the brain say “WHOA! Too much… too much…. ” and they stop receiving signals as readily. This same thing happens all over your body with all of your senses…. an overwhelming smell becomes less offensive after a few moments, a cold pool becomes comfortable.
The more pleasure you experience, the lower your relative happiness.
You may not even be aware of how often your pleasure buttons are being pushed. Foods have added sugars for this very reason. They also have natural and artificial flavors. These additives all tap the pleasure points in the brain making you want more and more. Ironically, overeating only makes you feel less happy and more out of control. Social media outlets are designed to send you on a pleasure seeking adventure. Video games, as well. In his book, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains, Robert Lustig lines out exactly how the current pervasive pleasure culture is making us fat, dumb, reactive, and increasingly unhealthy.
To be sure, I enjoy the pleasures of life just like the next person.
No one is saying we need to lead lives without them. Much of the research is still being vetted out but it’s worth considering the implications of our extensive pleasure seeking behaviors (food, alcohol, internet, social media, shopping/buying, text messaging, etc etc) over the long term. Depression rates in our society are sky rocketing. Alzheimer’s is too. It’s a curious paradox, for sure.