The Pleasure Purpose Principle

PPP Sketch

What is Happiness?

We all want to be happy. But what is happiness? In his recent book, Happiness by Design Paul Dolan gives a very nice definition of happiness: happiness is experiences of pleasure and purpose over time.

Happiness Happens in the Present Moment

I like this definition because it doesn’t turn happiness into an abstract concept. Instead, it emphasizes that how we lead our lives, what we turn our attention to, the activities we engage in, or our ability to open up to the present moment, will help to make us happy.

I created this short video to explain the pleasure-purpose principle using my own words. I hope you enjoy it.

Now go out, enjoy some fresh air, meet some friends or talk to a stranger. Do whatever gives you pleasure or  – if you want to mix things up – engage in an activity you find purposeful.



  1. Rico Schneider

    Congrats on the cool animation and video, hermanito! I enjoyed watching it, very creative.

    The following came to my mind:

    Ultimately, as human beings, we all want happiness. I agree that our happiness depends on our emotions. There are positive and negative emotions, which influence our wellbeing and our health. Positive emotions can be cathegorized into two:

    1) positive emotions which are temporary – and created by our ego – and which have a negative component or counterpart in which they can convert into: for example if you are enjoying a party this is a positive emotion. When the party is over or during the party, the party might not satisfy your expectations and the positive emotion will convert into a negative emotion. Emotions generated by our ego are a product of our identification with external factors, which are unstable and will change, by their own nature.

    2) positive emotions which come from our being have no negative counterpart and are driven by our own Self.

    I believe that the key is to be able to cultivate positive emotions -and ultimately our happiness – is to be able to firstly recognize and secondly concentrate and focus on our positive emotions, which are not driven by external factors. An example can be a beautiful sunset: it is not the sunset itself which gives us the feeling of joy and happiness, but our ability of absorption into the sunset, to be in the present moment.

    When you see somebody smile and this creates a feeling of happiness in you, try to sustain that feeling as long as possible and be aware that this is how happiness feels. When we are happy, let’s relax and just be happy!

    • Hoi hermanito, very true what you say. Emotions have different causes. Many Buddhist traditions have studied how emotions arise and how our attachment to ideas or things can lead to suffering. I think attachment in itself is nothing bad, as long as we can let go when we have to. Hermanito: Enjoy your travels while they last, grow attached to the subset over Myanmar and let’s talk soon. Abrazos.

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