Why The Things You Like Could Be Hurting Your Happiness

"Pleasure is short-lived, happiness is long-lived." Dr. Robert Lustig explains why guilty pleasures such as sugar, social media, and video games are hurting our happiness in the long-run. 🙃

Robert Lustig's scientific theory of happiness

Sugar, social media, compulsive shopping, video games, pornography, drugs. Could these simple pleasures actually be obstacles

to our pursuit of happiness and well-being? Where is happiness? Where is it? A lot of people equate the two. But a doctor is here to tell you that they are completely different. The extremes of pleasure all lead to addiction. Whether they be substances or behaviors. In contrast, happiness is long-lasting, spiritual, related to social interactions.

According to Dr. Robert Lustig we confuse the two. An American neuroendocrinologist, Dr. Lustig is famous for his research on sugar addiction. In his latest book, he explains the difference between pleasure and happiness. He says there’s a scientific reason why pleasure stops us from happiness. That feeling of “one with the world,” as many would say. That thing we call happiness. Robert Lustig says that seeking pleasure is an obstacle to finding happiness. And there’s a scientific reason behind it.

Pleasure lasts a short time, is instinctive, is physical, is solitary. Pleasure releases dopamine. Happiness depends on serotonin. Dopamine stimulates the “reward circuit,” and can create addictions. Serotonin is responsible for the feeling of contentment, or fulfillment. Unlike dopamine, serotonin doesn’t create addictions or kill neurons. It’s not excitatory. It slows down those neurons instead of causing them to fire up. You can’t overdose the serotonin neuron.

“Next time, you need a bigger hit to get the same rush, because there are fewer receptors to occupy. And you need a bigger hit, and a bigger hit, and a bigger hit, until finally taking a huge hit to get nothing. That’s called tolerance. And then when the neurons start to die, that’s called addiction.”

The problem? The more dopamine you create, the lower your serotonin level is likely to drop. Dopamine excites the next neuron. And neurons, when they’re excited too much, too frequently, tend to die.