08 Nov How to be happy with what you have
I’M A movie buff.
Terminator sci-fi films, 007 spy flicks, Flying High comedy spoofs, Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, Hitchcock thrillers, classic swashbuckler adventure films – I love them all.
So I was bursting with excitement the day that a new LG 60 inch ultra-high definition Smart TV was delivered to my door.
For the next month, I spent every evening camped out in the lounge room like a kid in a candy store slack-jawed, eyes glued to the screen.
I was in cinematic heaven, overwhelmed by the crystal-clear picture, the dazzling colours, the sweet sound.
Incredibly, though, as each week passed I found that the initial happiness I had tasted when I had first switched on the TV had waned and the screen didn’t seem as large or the picture as stunning anymore. I began wondering if I should have bought the next bigger size.
Becoming rapidly accustomed to something new is so common that psychologists have a name for it – hedonic adaptation.
I am betting you’ve had a similar experience, perhaps when you bought a new car or article of clothing, changed your hair style, relocated to a different city, or began a new job.
Just as you quickly adapt to the heat of a hot bath or a peculiar smell in your own apartment, so too do you adapt to changing life circumstances.
You can see that hedonic adaptation is a double-edged sword. It is beneficial when bad things happen, allowing you to adapt quickly and return to your baseline happiness after losing a job, suffering an illness, or experiencing a relationship breakup.
But it works against you and reduces your happiness following uplifting or positive events.
Fortunately, the power to successfully minimise the effects of hedonic adaptation is within your
control. By making a habit of practising a variety of happiness-inducing activities you will be able to maintain and enjoy a higher level of happiness when good things happen in your life. Here are several activities to help you.
1. Appreciate what you have now, instead of wanting more
The remedy is not to completely stop wanting more, but to enjoy and be thankful for what you
have NOW. Instead of being seduced by the urge to buy another car, coffee maker, or pair of
shoes, write down why you are grateful for similar possessions that you presently own.
Remember the reasons why you bought your current car. Recall the great coffee your machine
makes. Reminisce about the wonderful times you have had wearing the various shoes in your
cupboard. Then, make a conscious effort to enjoy every moment you use those possessions in
2. Relish ordinary experiences
I have worked and lived in some extraordinarily beautiful places around the world, but like most
people, I always became accustomed to my surroundings and never fully appreciated the amazing
opportunities afforded to me.
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