The idea that we can achieve happiness by maximising pleasure and minimising pain is both intuitive and popular. The truth is, however, very different. Pleasure alone cannot not make us happy.
Take Christina Onassis, the daughter of shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. She inherited wealth beyond imagination and spent it on extravagant pleasures in an attempt to alleviate her unhappiness. She died at 37 and her biography, tellingly subtitled All the Pain Money Can Buy, recounts a life full of mind-boggling extravagance that contributed to her suffering.