Pleasure vs. Happiness
One day you'll hear a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig.
To watch the video - go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx-QrilOoSM. It's heavy on science.
He's a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF. The lecture covers metabolic syndrome and the link between fructose consumption, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance and obesity. He'll tell you that there has been a coordinated effort to hide the connection between sugar consumption and the development of diabetes and all the things that go with it.
To sum it up, the simplest thing we can do is cut the fructose out of diet - limit fruit and avoid sweets altogether.
We can also avoid alcohol, corn fed meats and make sure we get adequate levels of fiber to feed the bacteria in our guts that make our digestion work.
You'll look into his ideas and hear the single most important insight into why we fell for this simple dietary substitution which has led us to the brink - pleasure is dopamine, happiness is serotonin.
Okay, that might not be an obvious connection but he wrote an entire book about it called "The Hacking of the American Mind".
Simply stated - pleasure is short-lived, visceral, experienced alone, involves consumption, and is only achievable with substances. Since pleasure involves the release of dopamine in the brain - extremes of pleasure can lead to addiction.
On the other hand, happiness is long lived, ethereal, experienced in community, occurs through giving, and cannot be achieved with a substance. You cannot overdose on happiness. In fact, happiness leads to contentment, a state of mind experienced in the present moment as a calm one could easily equate to peace.
Therefore, pleasure is excitation and happiness is peace. The two are negatively correlated which means the more pleasure you seek, the less happiness you'll have and the more happiness you have the less pleasure you'll seek.
As someone who has recovered from addiction you'll know the consequences of too much dopamine. Once you recover you'll search for happiness and it's only when you're engaged with your fellow man in a purpose that enhances the lives of others will you'll begin to understand happiness, contentment and peace.
Dr. Lustig points the finger at the cultural drivers represented by Las Vegas, 5th Avenue, Silicon Valley and Washington DC. He asserts that the corporations of the world have conflated the concepts of pleasure and happiness and made it easy to buy pleasure through the promotion of hedonic substances and technology.
He dances around issues of mind control, collusion between industries and the possibility of conspiracy but he's clear on his assertion that we've been tricked. He says corporations fed us false information (propaganda, not marketing) to enhance our willingness to buy products which ultimately harm us.
Our own food and medical industries have engaged in a systematic effort to hide the truth and promote false information under the guise of academic scientific pronouncements and deliberately misleading dietary guidelines. Sadly, some physicians willingly participated in this effort but most were just doing what they do best - following the guidelines they've been trained to follow. Sadly, the truth has been available to us the whole time, we just chose to ignore it. We deferred judgement to panels of experts we never should have trusted.
We've been led down the primrose path with a candy cane in our mouths - all the way to the pharmacy to buy the drugs to treat the diseases we got from the food we ate.
In the end, happiness comes from cutting the crap (fructose, excessive alcohol, tobacco)and joining with each other to lift each other up and hold each other accountable based on social connection, integrity, responsibility and compassion.
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Matthew H. Evenhouse, MD is a board-certified Emergency Physician, published author, private pilot and international educator.