I jumped on Dr Robert Lustig’s new book, “Hacking the American Mind”. It promised to show the differences between happiness and pleasure (reward) and how they are easily confused.
“…things can bring you pleasure. But no thing can make you happy. Experiences can make you happy. People can make you happy. You can make you happy…”
He describes happiness as a state of contentment and connected to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Pleasure is different; the rush from gaining a reward for doing something, connected to another neurotransmitter, dopamine. (From my research, I’d say the highest dopamine point is anticipation, right before you get what you want (something important to bear in mind from a sales/marketing perspective).)
So, how to avoid chasing after happiness as something elusive, thinking that there’s a right to be “happy” all the time? As you might expect, life doesn’t work like that. It’s a mixture of highs and lows.
But, balance the serotonin and dopamine and you might think things aren’t so bad.