There is confusion among people to understand the difference between pleasure and happiness and as a consequence some end up with addictions like alcohol, drugs and less dangerous ones like the mobile, sex, coke and many others.
There are predominantly three hormones that can influence our behavior and desire to have pleasure or happiness, dopamine, serotonin and cortisol.
Dopamine can be described as a rewarding hormone to seek pleasures and can lead to addictions in some. Dopamine upregulating neurotransmitter that rewards to have more and as a consequence you need more to get the same stimulus and hence can become addiction prone.
Serotonin can be described as happiness hormone which can lead to satisfaction and it feels good and hence you don’t feel like needing more. In other words, Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is inhibitory and one does not need more serotonin to excite as there in no neuronal death and no risk for addiction.
The third hormone is the cortisol or the stress hormone which works on prefrontal cortex. If this area is dysfunctional, then one does not see future consequences and lives in the present.
In people with dysfunctional prefrontal cortex, as they live in the present, dopamine upregulation happens leading to addiction. Addiction is due to combination of dopamine and cortisol. So, people who are stressed, cortisol sets up dopamine upregulation and leads to reward and thereby addiction.
Pleasure is Dopamine and Happiness is Serotonin
- Pleasure is a short term, like a meal, however, happiness is a life time event.
- Pleasure is within the body; happiness is outside the body.
- Pleasure is taken and happiness is given.
- Pleasure is by alone like eating a cake, happiness is like a birthday party, a social event.
- Pleasure is achieved with substances while happiness is not.