What makes you happy? Think of something that really sticks out. I love Thai food and take-out Chinese. If I can slurp sweet and sour and see a movie on the big screen, I’m in paradise. If I did this a second day in a row, it would mean less. Five days straight wouldn’t add much happiness.
This is the law of diminishing returns. Your third piece of pizza isn’t as tasty as your first sticky… steamy… slice… Mmmm…
Read on…you’ll discover how to make life more interesting. I know, that’s a crazy promise, but it’s true and pretty simple. First, let’s understand the “hedonic treadmill.” This is science. It happens to you every day. The hedonic treadmill shows: You’ll quickly return to a stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative life events.
So, if your favorite pet dies, it’ll be horrible for a few weeks, then you’ll return to your base level of happy. You’ll keep loving memories of Ralph The Radical Rat but you won’t sit in sadness forever.
If you win the lottery, it’ll be great for a few months, then you’ll return to your base level of happy.
The high won’t last. Having a billion bucks won’t make you permanently happier.
Let’s peep it from a personal angle. You be the example. Let’s put you on a fantasy adventure. Imagine your plane touches down in Bali. You slip away to a beach bungalow. Life is perfect. You plop into your hammock without a care in the world. You watch the sun dip into the ocean. You enjoy the most stunning sunset ever seen. Life couldn’t be better.
You plop into the same hammock at the same beach bungalow in Bali. You make it a bit better with BBQ sea shrimp. Eating shrimp, relaxing in your hammock…now this is perfect. The best sunset in your personal history.
Yesterday evening was so good, you decide to upgrade. You add a tropical drink, cook the shrimp, and plop down into the hammock. Now it’s close perfection.
Now, if only that special person was here to enjoy it with you. You Instagram selfies with a drink and shrimp, in a hammock, at a beach bungalow in Bali. Who cares about the silly sunset!
You feel bad…but you’re bored by your basic Bali sunset. Besides, who wants to waste time watching the sun wain?
What happened to the sunset? This is hedonic adaptation! No matter how epic something is, you will get used to it! After you’re accustomed, you will return to your base level of happiness!
This is why money can’t buy happiness. This is why millionaires and billionaires can still be whiny, little, unsatisfied trolls. This is why it’s so important to understand ourselves. This is why you must ask, how do you spend your money and live your life? How do you get the most happy for your buck?
Back to the sunset at your Beach Bungalow in Bali. Now that you’ve adapted, can you even enjoy it anymore? Crazy enough, the answer is NO! You can’t enjoy your sunset in the same way at this point. It’s ruined. Ah, such is life and your human condition.
But there’s a way…there’s a secret hack. There’s a hidden door to see your sunset again. And this trick applies to everything. It doesn’t just apply to experiences impressing your friends on social media.
It applies to the most simple things in your life. It applies to your most basic creature comforts.
As you get used to each of these things in your life, you stop appreciating them. When was the last time you looked in your fridge and were amazed by food? Did you open your pantry this morning and gaze at the marvels of modern society? Did you bask in the comfort of rarely experiencing hunger? Of course not! You expect food without foraging.
You must halt the cycle of hedonic adaptation. You must hop off the hedonic treadmill. You need a hard reset. Here’s how. Instead of endlessly clicking up hill, seeking cold comfort, let your roller coaster plummet to the bottom. It’ll be fun and you’ll appreciate more. Here’s some salty solutions. Something you can tear your teeth into.
Get off the hedonic treadmill by individually resetting each of your norms
Food: Fast for a day. You’ll love food again with new vigor. Life will become brighter. It’s natural. Try it. Do what people just like you did for 10,000 years. It’s only recently we’ve had so much food.
Warmth: Take a cold shower once a week or month. You’ll love warm showers even more afterwards. It resets your body. It makes you remember warmth is a luxury you crave. You shouldn’t take it for granted. Cold showers are really healthy, too.
Soft Bed: Go camping or sleep on the ground in your sleeping bag. You’ll cherish that Tempurpedic when you get home.
Relationships: Learn. Grow. Go on adventures with your partner. Build trust and take on interesting challenges together.
Days Off Work: Eliminate electronics. Wave work calls. Walk in the woods. Take real time off business tasks and thoughts.
Reset to Refresh. What about the sunset at your beach bungalow in Bali?
Just change your location or activity. Switch scenes, Sam! Most of us won’t be happy in the same hammock for a week. Take off to town to talk with locals, then cruise to the countryside to climb in a river. Slip back to appreciate the sunset anew. It works! In fact, the sunset will be better this way.
Reset your base level of happy. It makes EVERYTHING better. Get creative so you can milk the most out of life. Understand that your peace of mind doesn’t depend on fortune.
The irony of all this is that you seek comfort. As you attain that comfort you stop appreciating it. As you don’t appreciate, you get uncomfortable. Constant comfort makes you uncomfortable! But the hack is so simple. Just reset your comfort level so you can keep enjoying the small things.
Go tell someone you love them today. Now go hit the reset button on simple things you take for granted. Stay focused on getting the most happy for your buck. Follow your dreams. Don’t let societal norms slow you down. The masses aren’t finding happiness…so stop following them! Love, Brandon at Village Wash.