Rusty pleasures and heaven-stored treasures

I don’t know that he meant to, but organizational theorist Seth Godin has done it again. He’s provided yet another argument for encouraging God’s people (all people, for that matter) to live generously.

This time around, Godin contrasts pleasure and happiness – concepts that many folks confuse one for the other. But as Godin tells us, “they couldn’t be more different.”

Pleasure is short-term, addictive and selfish. It’s taken, not given. It works on dopamine.

Happiness is long-term, additive and generous. It’s giving, not taking. It works on serotonin.

Pleasure and happiness feel like they are substitutes for each other, different ways of getting the same thing. But they’re not. Instead, they are things that are possible to get confused about in the short run, but in the long run, they couldn’t be more different.

If Godin’s words have a familiar ring, think Matthew 6: 19 -21. It’s here that Jesus cautions against self-centered storing up of treasures in the present where “moths and vermin destroy and thieves break in and steal.” In the place of short-term pleasure shopping, Jesus champions the long-view or what The Message refers to as the “appetite-denying discipline” of stockpiling treasure in heaven.

Pursuing happiness “requires more patience, more planning and more confidence” Godin acknowledges.

It’s possible to find happiness in the unhurried child’s view of the world, but we’re more likely to find it with a mature, mindful series of choices, most of which have to do with seeking out connection and generosity and avoiding the short-term dopamine hits of marketed pleasure.

But in the end, the wait is worth the effort.

In fact, “It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being” (The Message 6:21). In that place, finally and eternally, our true happiness and our every pleasure become one as we love and are loved by God.

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