Have We Confused Hedonism With Happiness?

Have you ever craved for one thing so badly that you could taste it, and your pursuit of it consumed your soul? Remember how delirious you were when it was finally in your grasp, but did that feeling remain?

We have all felt this way. It is part of being human.

We want to be happy, and early in life we equate comfort and pleasure with happiness. This is one of the great confusions – to mistake hedonism for happiness.

When what we have sought is in our hands, we may feel satisfied and enjoy it for a time as long as it brings us pleasure. Rarely does this bring fulfillment. We may then seek to fill the void in the soul with the pursuit of another pleasure.

We can repeat this cycle of confusion throughout a lifetime and never experience profound happiness.

This happens in relationships. Many feel the greatest pleasure in the pursuit and delirium of falling in love but when the romance and chemistry wane, we may feel disillusioned.

We seek a better job, feel excited when we land it but become cynical when it becomes routine or not what we had hoped for. We look for something better.

We obsess about the latest smart phone, iPad or car, enjoy it while it is hot and new, but soon our satisfaction fades. We save and crave for what comes next.

Hunger is like this as is sex.

We may start to see that life can be an endless cycle of craving, pursuit, consumption and emptiness. We can binge and purge until the day we die, and never feel satisfied.

Next: So how do we step off this train?

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About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in Happiness, Relationships, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Have We Confused Hedonism With Happiness?

  1. mysterycoach says:

    Exactly. I have this cool phone right? Just as an example of always wanting more. It’s an HTC Aria and I keep looking at the newer sleeker ones because I’d like a bigger screen. I didn’t pay for this phone and I’m not paying for a new one either. Meaning, when it was time for my upgrade they wanted 80.00 for my phone, I asked for a refurbished one (which still works excellent mind you) and I got it for free. I figure I can wait until these other ones are outdated and then I’ll get a bigger screen and it will be free, but “my point” is that I know what you mean when you say it’s like we’re not satisfied. I don’t really need a bigger screen “really” I just like the idea of it and I like shiny new things. LOL πŸ™‚ However, what I have, fits in my pocket and works just fine. It’s an excellent little phone.

    It’s like leasing a car. People are SO enticed by having a new car every what? 2 years? And I’ve always said … Okay, that’s nice but what if you owned your car in 3 years and then had “how much” money left per month to do something else? Oh, no we have to have something new and shiny and keep up. But with who? Albeit, My car is older and I just paid it off and I would love a truck, BUT having the extra money and maintaining this one will be fine for a little while, I have other priorities. So that’s $300.00 more in my pocket per month. What’s more interesting is how people view one another based on the material things they have or do not have. Like it says something about them as a person. That’s not true. Nice things, material things etc., doesn’t say anything about anyone “as a person”. So, what’s the big deal over leasing and spending whatever amount of money “every” month … why? I don’t grasp that concept AT all… some where, out there, there’s a marketing genius and people bought into it.

    This part here of your post:

    “We may start to see that life can be an endless cycle of craving, pursuit, consumption and emptiness. We can binge and purge until the day we die, and never feel satisfied.”

    I have felt at times perhaps I “should” want certain things but … I’m not unhappy with what I do have. I would like more of certain things, like money (heh) but I know too that money doesn’t by happiness if you’re not happy on the inside. I see people, and I am truly happy for them, with all this “stuff” however sometimes (not all) you look a little deeper and they’re not all that happy on the inside. I’m not happy all the time either but I don’t base it on what material things I have. I know that financial security is important and this is not what I’m talking about. Which, I’m sure you understand… okay, rant over LOL πŸ™‚

    • That “new car” smell and the look and feel of the latest Apple product are simple (though costly) pleasures. Newness and novelty, prestige and fashion appeal to everyone to some extent. It’s part of being human.

      That’s why companies will continue to sell to us by showing us something new, novel and attractive.

      • mysterycoach says:

        You know, simple pleasures used to be hanging out with friends, walks in the country (my personal favorite) and things that don’t cost thousands of dollars.

        That’s why companies will continue to market things the way they do. Some are always looking around, at what everyone else has and is doing instead of being happy and taking care of what they have.

        It’s like a kid when they see someone else has something, they want one too. Or keeping up with the Jones and what will people think if someone doesn’t have x, y, z… always comparing, never satisfied. That’s what I’m saying. I may have misunderstood what you’re response meant tho. πŸ™‚

  2. Laura Kristen says:

    The way we need so many Things to keep us feeling happy is a scam!! True happiness should come from sharing our selves, not from an accumulation of the latest advertised crap!!! That’s why we feel so empty. The loved ones in our lives are happier with thier things ,rather than us. So sad.

    • We don’t have to fall into the seductive trap of advertising. When we lose a loved one, we realize that much of what consumes our days doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things. Our most important relationships do.

  3. Laura Kristen says:

    Absolutely,the people in our lives are our value. Not what is advertised as the latest must have for happiness and satisfaction. We need to guard ourselves from these false values and the self serving companies that speel them!

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