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General Articles

Judy Churchill: Happiness or Pleasure?

What’s the difference and which are we striving for?

It’s common to feel fundamentally unhappy and yet to keep chasing pleasure. Even though are lives are filled with things, people, possessions and a mountain of evidence constantly reminding us that we should be ‘happy’, very often we’re not. We add more pleasurable pursuits and more things in a bid to reverse the trend but it only works for brief moment and then we’re back to square one again feeling dissatisfied. So why is it?

Happiness is a constant, whereas pleasure is a pain avoiding exercise. We seek pleasure because we hope/think it will bring us happiness and often it does but only momentarily. Pleasure can come from a good meal in a nice restaurant, a salary raise, our investments preforming well, sex, a new article of clothing or accessory, alcohol, smoking etc. However the ‘high’ that comes from these experiences is short- lived, very much like a drug. Pleasure is dependent on external factors or experiences and the result is that we need more and more of them to keep up the euphoria. Not getting a pleasure fix will often result in a person having a tantrum just like a child demanding instant gratification following which depression and despondency take over.

Many people who seemingly have everything (on paper) can’t understand why they are not happy and even end up feeling guilty about it, which deepens their unhappiness even more. Parents have the same trouble understanding their children and exacerbate the problem with comments such as: ‘What are you moaning about? You’ve got nothing to complain about, you have everything. Other children would kill to have what you have!’

But this is to completely miss the point. Happiness does not increase in proportion to the number of ‘things’ you have.

Happiness is a more a state of mind. It’s about creating a space and an attitude in which you can feel happiness, general satisfaction on a daily basis – living in the now without having to grab a ‘pleasure’ to give yourself a quick fix. It’s more about a state of inner fulfilment and feeling pleased and proud of yourself and your life’s purpose. 

In my coaching sessions I always place a huge emphasis on having a ‘purpose’ whether personal or professional. This gives you a daily focus and an opportunity to do something positive for yourself and others. Small satisfactions and accomplishments equate to big and long lasting happiness. Seeing others happy as a result of something you have done is hugely rewarding and rates high on the happiness scale. It’s not all about ‘having’ things but more about ‘doing’ things. 

Regularly connecting with nature to stay healthy, fit and grounded is something that will bring you enormous happiness and peace of mind. It is one of my personal favourites, which is why I have created the Riviera Happy Hiker page on Facebook so that I can share the knowledge with others. Hiking helps shift you into a positive, meditative mind-set, increasing your wellbeing. It’s not so much the activity itself that increases happiness, it’s more about the mind-set you find yourself in, able to reflect on your inner resources and enter a purer space from which to contemplate life as a whole. Your mind decides whether your circumstances equate to happiness or misery and one person’s misery is another person’s happiness.

Real happiness comes with freeing the mind from mental toxins such as jealousy, envy, hatred, obsessions, addictions, negative self-talk and self-destructive ideas. 

As we age we should become wiser and gathering wisdom should make us more compassionate to others who are trapped on the pleasure train and need help finding and nurturing their own happiness. 

If we associate our happiness with that of helping others find their happiness, it is win-win for all concerned. 

Everyone wants to avoid pain and suffering which is why we skip our training sessions, language lessons, homework, housework, accounts etc. and replace them with more fleetingly pleasurable but often self–destructive distractors. 

Developing the mind-set to cope with our challenges and helping others cope with theirs creates a sound foundation for long-lasting happiness. This does not mean that we have to give up all our possessions or our pleasures but they should be the icing on the cake of a strong foundation of happiness.

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Judy is based in Monaco and specialises in transformational coaching working with both individuals and companies. 

Judy is also a qualified language teacher/trainer for adults and children in French, English and Spanish.

If you would like to receive coaching, communication skills training, language tutoring or certified translating from Judy, you can contact her or via Facebook messenger and

Thursday, 31 May 2018    Section: General Articles    Author: Judy Churchill
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