Happiness vs Pleasure

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Philippians 4:4

My dear fellow Proverbs 31 women in progress,

Happiness and pleasure are very similar concepts but they shouldn’t be mistaken.

Some people can think that they are happy whereas they have just experienced pleasure and vice versa.

Also, the world has given us a false definition of happiness versus pleasure that can confuse our minds.

Fortunately, the author of Fascinating Womanhood gives us a distinction between these two concepts, so that we can act properly.

Why is it so important to know the difference between happiness and pleasure for Christian women?

It’s simply because we must learn to be happy by ourselves before getting in a relationship with a man. If you’re not happy by yourself, he won’t make you happy.

Many women make the mistake to think that only marriage can make them happy, but this is a wordly misconception.

And afterwards, those women are very upset when their marriage isn’t the way they imagine because whatever their husbands do, they can never happy and they unsatisfied day after day.

Now, that we know what’s at stake with our happiness, let’s examine the distinction between happiness and pleasure.

Pleasure is linked to the satisfaction of our senses

Pleasure comes from things that directly appeal to our five senses: our sight, our hearing, our touch, our smell, and our taste.

That’s why we can experience pleasure from eating good food, wearing sensuous fabrics, seeing a beautiful sunset, appreciating music or fine arts,etc.

Pleasure taps into our sensuality and enriches our lives. I’ve even heard that when you are surrounded by beautiful things, you end up having beautiful thoughts.

Though pleasure is important to appreciate life, it doesn’t make you happy. You can have all the earthly possible pleasures and still be unhappy.

Case study: King Solomon

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

King Solomon was the richest man on earth. He could afford to build splendid palaces, beautoful gardens, male and female servants, gold plates, and all the bling that he laid his eyes on.

However, despite all the pleasures he had from these wordly goods, he couldn’t be happy. And he realized that all his riches were merely vanity.

His riches didn’t make him happy, though he gtook great pleasure in them. But he finally got bored.

Sometimes when rich people complain about being unhappy, we tend to think that they are spoiled and self-centered. We all say “oh, poor little rich girl” for example.

But when you realize the difference between pleasure and happiness, it makes sense. You do have rich people who can be very, very unhappy, despite all the money they have on their bank accounts.

And King Solomon is a Biblical proof of this fact.

Pleasure can derive from sinful activities

For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
And her mouth is smoother than oil;
But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.

Proverbs 5:3-4

Pleasure can also derive from sinful activities, such as adultery, doing drugs, gambling, alcoholism,etc.

Most of the times, this kind of pleasure can even lead to addiction because we want to renew the experience to stimulate our dopamine.

Bad pleasures are short-term shots in our lives. You experience this kind of pleasures for a very short time. But you can endure their consequences during your whole lifetime.

For example, alcoholism can lead to liver cancer and even to death.

Adultery destroys the moral and social order, as well as marriages and families.

Gambling destroys your financial stability and your family as well.

Doing drugs destroys your future, your physical appearance, and attacks your sanity.

Case study: King David

We couldn’t analyze the effects of bad pleasures without thinking about King David and Bathsheba, who was married to Uriah, one of King David’s elite soldiers.

King David experienced a very short moment of pleasure with Bathsheba and fell in love with her. But the consequences were hard and lasted almost his lifetime:

  • the child he had with Bathsheba died;
  • his son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar;
  • his son Absalom rebelled against him and wanted to drive him away from his throne;
  • some of his best advisors, such as Ahitophel, turned away from him;
  • his reign was never as glorious as it was because he only had problems.

You can learn more about David and Bathsheba’s story here.

Happiness can come from unpleasant experiences

Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

1 Timothy 2:15

On the contrary, happiness can come from unpleasant experience. Do you know the saying: “no pain, no gain”? Well, this is how happiness can come from pain.

For example, women experience a huge deal of pain when she gives birth to a child. But when she sees her child, her joy overrides her pain.

Let’s take a less painful example. You may suffer when you eat good food and when you exercise. But when you see the results of your efforts on your body, you become happy.

Happiness can derive from pain, discipline, willpower, and self-control; all things that are normally considered as unpleasant.

Happiness is linked to the achievement of high goals

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

1 Corinthians 9:24

Do you have high goals? Then, know that your happiness can derive from achieving them.

You may struggle to achieve them. You may even fail on the road. But when you visualize the results of your actions, happiness will come into your heart.

Case study: The Apostles and the Gospel

When the Apostles proclaimed the Gospel and evangelized, they met struggles and opposition everywhere.

They were betrayed, prosecuted, beaten, imprisoned, and even killed. But they kept their eyes on the prize, whih was announcing the good news of Salvation to all the earth.

And they were happy to serve the Lord and obey him. Speaking of obeying the Lord…

Happiness comes from being compliant with God’s laws

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18

The Lord tells us that we are happy when we keep His laws and commandments.

Just like laws that govern the whole universe, there are laws that regulates happiness. And these laws are found in the Bible.

Therefore, I encourage you to keep the laws of God and the testimony of Jesus, because they are the foundations of your happiness.

And I know that it won’t be easy. Especially because the world won’t understand you. But in these troubled times, God is setting a clear line between those who obey Him and those who don’t.

If you want to be happy, pick God’s team. And stay with Him until the end.

Finally, we can see that happiness and pleasure are not the same, even if they are close.

Happiness derive from conscious efforts to obey the Lord, discipline, pain, and self-mastery. On the contrary, pleasure appeals to our sensuality and our material world.

Well, that’s it for today? What do you do to be happy? Do you agree with the distinction between happiness and pleasure?

Please share your point of view in the comments below!

Stay blessed!

To get more knowledge on this topic, click below to buy Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin:

Read also:

How To Acquire Self-Mastery

5 Basic Needs of Women

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God bless you all!


6 comments

  1. Justin says:

    Hello Angelce, thanks for sharing such an amazing article and I have to say its a pleasure to be here and I really like it. These are two things we all want without question and it is a part of our being so we can’t throw it away. Pleasure truly is something I wouldn’t always bank on because it seem more temporarily or with limit, while happiness sticks 

  2. Suz says:

    You are very right and this post is very apt. I have seen so many people who have the utmost amount of pleasure in this life but they have not attained the amount of happiness. This is why some other people don’t really have all the pleasant things in life but they have been able to live in good health and I’m happiness too. While we want pleasure in life, we should also pay for happiness too.

  3. Nath says:

    This is exactly the truth and I could relate well with this. Mistaken pleasurable feeling for happiness can really be dangerous for is because we think we are actually happy, whereas, we are not happy, we are only enjoying the pleasure of the moment. Serious one to see here. Thank you so much

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