The Three P’s of Happiness: Pleasure, Passion and Purpose

Hi Everyone,

As I mentioned in my previous post I am was reading (just finished) “Delivering Happiness” by Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh.

I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it. The book is broken down into three basic parts (Profits, Profits and Passion and Profits, Passion and Purpose) as well as a final chapter focused on the “science of happiness”. As much as I enjoyed the book and found it really interesting and insightful, as a “happiness scientist” (or spiritual scientist, as I call it) I especially enjoyed that last chapter.

One of the powerful things I learned in that chapter where the three P’s which are Pleasure, Passion and Purpose and represent the three types of happiness.


Pleasure is that “instant gratification” feeling. It’s the ice cream and porn (both of which I experienced today…LOL) and Hsieh aptly describes it as the “Rock Star” type of a happiness. I think guys call this “Bud, Booze and Babes” and I think of it kind of like freshman year of college…

Either way you “party” and experience pleasure, science has shown that out of the three types of happiness this is the most fleeting and short lasting and “as soon as the source of stimuli goes away, people’s happiness drops immediately”.

This isn’t surprising, but for me it was eye-opening…

In my own personal life, I think I have spent a lot of time (and admittedly too much time) chasing life’s pleasures. My philosophy was something similar to “life is short, have fun”…

What I came to realize, though, was just like the research shows, it was the happiness that was actually “short” and I had to get my next fix…and QUICK! This took many forms for me but most commonly my “highs” took shape as flings and traveling, along with a dash of some “experimentation” (we will leave it at that).

I am just now starting to realize just how short of a buzz this happiness is and that maybe I no longer want to pursue it as my staple form of happiness.

Which brings me to PASSION…


Here, Tony describes passion as “flow”. You know the feeling…

It’s when you are “in the zone” and so utterly absorbed in what you are doing that hours seem to fly by like minutes and before you know it when you take a second to look up and step away from what you are doing you realize it is four hours later.

For me passion is surfing and being out in nature along with a few other things like reading, journaling, and more.

As you  might have guessed, the “passion” type of happiness is (significantly) more long lasting than that of “pleasure”.

I feel like right now I have sort of shifted my focus from PLEASURE to PASSION, although of course, pleasure is always still such a temptation to me, but I’m trying and I am AWARE! *BLESSED!*

Last but not least is purpose!


This is described as serving a higher purpose and feeling connected to something larger and more powerful than yourself. Of course, is this the “highest” form of happiness and also the longest lasting. It is the feeling of true love and happiness and in my life currently it is what I feel with Elaine. Together, she and I feel this synergy, where together we are “more than the sum of our parts” individually. In the “Seven Habits…” book this is described as “1+1=3”. It is the teamwork and feeling of “oneness” that you feel with your partner, friend, family, community and coworkers.

Pleasure, Passion, Purpose
Pleasure, Passion, Purpose


In my own life this has helped me to see that before I was definitely living that “rock star” life (more like hippie, though) and was always pursuing PLEASURE.

On my own, I started to see more recently (within this past year or so) that I no longer want to keep living my life in that way. I began to experience, first hand, just how “short-term” this pleasure was and I experienced it most painfully in my relationships, especially my romantic relationships…

Needless to say, this was a painful (yet effective) wake up call and for the first time I started to see the pleasure “pattern” that was forming in my life and that I was really chasing the next “high”.

Now a days, I am really focused on PASSION, but pleasure is still tempting to me. I spend a lot of time now walking and doing yoga and being in nature, etc even though passion is not supreme.


I think right now I am still wrestling with what my purpose is…


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