Difference Between Happiness and Pleasure

Happiness vs Pleasure

The main difference between Happiness and Pleasure is that, while happiness refers to a state that is more internally motivated, pleasure is externally motivated. Happiness and pleasure are things that people strive for in life. Throughout our lives, most of us are in search of true happiness. The desire to have a great life, a good job, and a wonderful family is some such needs based on which we assess our happiness. After watching a great movie or eating a delicious piece of cake, partying with friends, we feel happy. However, most of us confuse happiness with pleasure. Even though we believe that having a pleasurable time is happiness, these two cannot be considered as synonymous. The word happiness can be defined as a state of being happy. Pleasure, on the other hand, can be defined as a feeling of enjoyment. Through this article let us pay attention to the differences between happiness and pleasure.

What is Happiness?

Happiness refers to the state of being happy. This is a state of mind, rather than a reaction to external stimuli. True happiness comes from within the individual. Happiness is usually long lived and allows the individual to be truly grateful and satisfied with his life. When an individual is satisfied with his life and his actions and beliefs are in congruence, the individual tends to be happy. This does not mean that life has to be perfect at all times and filled with positive experiences alone.

There may be negative situations as well, yet the individual is happy irrespective of these external factors. In the case of positive external factors, the individual can become happier. Still the removal of these factors does not cause the removal of happiness. For example, while having a great time with friends the individual becomes very happy. However, even after the experience the individual remains happy because happiness is not dependent on the external factors alone.

Difference Between Happiness and Pleasure

What is Pleasure?

Pleasure can be defined as a feeling of enjoyment. Unlike happiness, this is only momentary and is always dependent on external factors. For example, when having a delicious meal, you feel pleasure. This is because your body is enjoying the positive experience through the senses. However as soon as the experience ends or else the external factor is removed, you move back to the original state. After hearing that you have won a lottery, got a promotion or had a great time, you tend to feel the pleasure. This once again is the reaction to external stimuli. If the individual wishes to maintain pleasure at all times, he has to keep on engaging in positive activities. This highlights that unlike happiness, pleasure is short-lived and dependent on external factors.

Happiness vs Pleasure

Reading brings pleasure

What is the difference between Happiness and Pleasure?

• Definition of Happiness and Pleasure:

• Happiness can be defined as a state of being happy; a state of mind, rather than a reaction to external stimuli.

• Pleasure can be defined as a feeling of enjoyment due to external stimuli.

• Duration:

• Happiness is long-lived.

• Pleasure is momentary. The individual feels happy only as long as the positive experience lasts.

• Internal vs External:

• Happiness is internal.

• Pleasure is external. It solely depends on the external factors.

• Removing External Factors:

• Removal of external factors does not make an individual unhappy as it is more of a state of mind.

• The removal of external factors directly affects pleasure.

• Focus:

• In happiness, the focus is on the individual and others as well.

• In pleasure, the focus is only one’s self.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Love and Happiness by Ann (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Weekend pleasure in France by lilie Mélo (CC BY 2.0)