I spend a great deal of time observing and thinking about people, and what makes them happy. One thing I can’t help but notice is that people that are generally unhappy with their lives find fleeting happiness in very frequently engaging in “quick pleasures.” These are the things that become habits, which provide temporary pleasure, but can be destructive in the longer run. Examples of things that fall in this category are:
- unhealthy and/or excessive eating
- Empty calorie entertainment (TV, video games, etc)
Don’t get me wrong. Most of the things that are considered “quick pleasures” (QP) are fine in moderation. Sex for example, is not only one of the most natural, but it is one of our most necessary activities. I encourage it. But it is a QP nonetheless, and as a result can become very addicting and therefore destructive if done excessively and irresponsibly.
The problem comes in when the QP crosses the line from being a satisfying recreational activity, to becoming a replacement activity to compensate for an unsatisfying life.
Ah, but did the QP problem cause the unhappiness, or did the unhappiness cause the QP problem? Irrelevant! But what is relevant, and true, is that they feed each other. The miserable life forces the individual to find solace in their vices, and the vices allow the individual to not have to face the underlying problem of their life; so the problem gets worse. This is the best case scenario (if said QP happens to be one of the healthier ones). I don’t believe I have to mention the additional ways most of the QP’s can hurt an already miserable life.
In the end the truth is this:
QP’s don’t cause long term sustained happiness. Living a good satisfying life does; a life of healthy uplifting relationships, a life of purpose, a life of contribution, a life of growth. QP’s if not carefully moderated, can in fact, drain the long term happiness.
So as minimalists, the one thing we should periodically circle back to, is analyzing our lives to determine if the quick pleasures in our lives are in any way draining our long term happiness. If they are, then we have more de-cluttering to do.