How to Overcome Hedonic Adaptation and Four Ways to Increase Your Own Happiness
“Happiness is not something that can be purchased off the shelf. It is due to the activities that you have taken. – Dalai Lama
Finding contentment in one’s life sometimes seems to be one of the most difficult tasks one must do. Everyone has the desire to experience joy (or so they say).
But what exactly does it mean to be happy, and how can we not only locate it, but also take it in and keep it for ourselves?
Happiness, according to the findings of several studies, may be broken down into three distinct components.
To begin with, there is the amount of happiness you are genetically predisposed to have, which accounts for approximately fifty percent of your total level of happiness.
Research was carried out on identical twins who were brought up together as well as those who were brought up apart.
The researchers were surprised to find that their degrees of enjoyment were remarkably comparable despite the significant variations in their upbringings and environments.
This is something that author Sonya Lyubomirsky refers to as the “happy set point” in her book, “The How of Happiness.”
The second factor that contributes around 10 percentage points to happiness is one’s living circumstances.
These are the things that happen to you that you are unable to influence, such as your gender, age, where you grew up, ethnicity, relationship status, employment, neighborhood, or health. Some of these things are included in the list above.
According to studies, our living circumstances only account for ten percent of our overall happiness. This suggests that whether you are a trash guy or a wealthy developer, it won’t really affect your level of pleasure all that much either way.
The idea that many African civilizations that live in great poverty are also some of the happiest people in the world is likely to come as a surprise to you.
They are more content because they have a feeling of community, and having a sense of community has nothing to do with financial prosperity, social standing, or goods.
The actions we do and the thoughts that go through our heads make up the third component of happiness. This factor accounts for forty percent of our overall pleasure and is the only one that we can really exercise control over.
This indicates that the actions and approaches we choose to implement in order to attain our objectives may have a significant impact on the degree to which we experience joy.
The phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation is the source of the majority of the challenges we confront in relation to purposeful behavior and cognition.
Unfortunately, due to the fickle nature of humans, the novelty of having beautiful and amazing things happen to us eventually wears off, and we grow immune to whatever it was that gave us that new sort of enjoyment.
This is because humans are fickle.
For instance, if you purchase a new house that has breathtaking views of the ocean and every morning you wake up and sit on your balcony sipping coffee or watching the dolphins play in the sea, the sight won’t seem as lovely as it did when you first saw it.
You will eventually get used to the sights and noises, and sitting outdoors on a daily basis will no longer provide the same level of enjoyment for you.
It is not possible for us to alter our set point any more than it is possible for us to alter the color of our eyes or hair (not counting the use of contacts or hair dye, of course!).
The circumstances of our lives will typically be dependent on our upbringing, and it may take some time to alter these circumstances.
Nevertheless, we are able to circumvent the effects of hedonic adaptation and raise our overall levels of pleasure by actively choosing to experience joy on a daily basis.
If you do not get up and make the conscious decision to remind yourself that you are blessed with amazing vistas, then the pleasure that you feel from participating in that activity will gradually diminish.
If, on the other hand, you make the conscious decision to greet each new day with the thought, “Wow, I’m fortunate,” you will be creating a positive reinforcement in your mind, which will help you either grow or sustain your levels of happiness.
Everyone is unique, and increasing your level of happiness may be accomplished via a variety of different strategies. The following are four things I have found to be effective.
1. Do Not Worry: Concentrate Your Attention On The Now
Eckhart Tolle is of the opinion that one of the primary reasons people experience dissatisfaction is due to the fact that we either live in the now or worry over the past.
“Come to the profound realization that this very instant is all that you will ever have.
The door to the spiritual aspect of life can only be opened by cultivating an attitude of appreciation for the here and now.
The ability to build a better future is contained within the present moment: you create a good future by creating a good present. The power to create a better future is contained within the present moment.”
How many days, weeks, and hours have you wasted thinking about everything you need to do or everything you should have done; what could have been; what could have been, all the things that you need to do, or all the things that you should have done?
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to say that the number is much too high.
This is a waste of everyone’s time, as well as their lives and energy. This very instant is the only one that has any significance.
After quitting my job and beginning to focus on building my own company, I found myself preoccupied with the results of my efforts.
Would I receive clients? If I tried this, how good would I be at it? What if I’m not any good?
What if no one is interested in listening to what I have to say? What happens if I spend all of my money?
I was fortunate enough to have a life coach who kept me on course, and finally I came to the conclusion that I was wasting my time by focusing on things that could or might not occur in the future, but that did not have any impact on me in the here and now.
The only thing I had any say over was the activity I was engaged in at any given time.
If I am making progress toward my objective, even if it is just by taking baby steps, then I need to learn to relax and accept that what I’ve accomplished so far is sufficient.
I have to admit that I am one of the many people who believe that meditation is beneficial.
Even if you can just devote a few minutes every day to the practice, meditation may help you better focus on the here and now and provide a sense of serenity to your mind.
The practice of meditation is well known for its ability to alleviate stress, enhance focus, retard the aging process, promote a healthy lifestyle, and raise one’s level of self-awareness.
Meditation is a discipline that helps one find their core. It enables you to ignore the competing and self-deprecating ideas that may be circulating in your head in order to concentrate on the essence of who you are and the things in which you believe.
Try these guided meditations if you find that you struggle to focus your attention. There is no one way that is superior to another when it comes to meditation.
Take things slowly, and act in a manner that is effective for you. The most essential thing you can do is to make it as much of a part of your everyday life as you possibly can.
3. Figure Out Ways To Deal With The Stress
In so many different aspects, including politically, economically, and emotionally, we are living in a challenging period.
At the same time, we are linked and detached from one another. If you dwell on all that is going wrong in the world, you are almost guaranteed to experience feelings of anxiety and depression.
To get started, you should start by concentrating on the things that you can control and letting go of the things that you can’t.
They have been jackhammering and bulldozing for the last eight hours every day, six days a week, in order to bring down the structure that is just across from me as we speak.
It is highly unpleasant, loud, and uncomfortable. Yet, they are enormous developers, and there is basically nothing I can do about it unless I want to spend a significant amount of money to get out of my lease.
Therefore, I need to discover strategies to manage the tension that this activity brings rather than allow myself to continually grow annoyed by it.
Writing is one of the strategies that I use to help me deal with stress. The release of tension that may be achieved via writing is significant.
Some folks prefer to garden. Some people find that going to the gym, reading a book, going trekking, or participating in social activities like playing pool or even simply having a bath and unwinding in a hot tub are enjoyable ways to spend their free time.
Every single person is unique. Consider doing something that will divert your attention away from the pressures and difficulties of the day and will assist you in coping with them.
If you are dissatisfied with your employment, continuing to whine about it is not going to help the situation.
What will be of assistance is the creation of a departure strategy, as well as the beginning of research and application processes for other positions, or maybe the consideration of returning to school.
Concentrate on the aspects of your day, life, and existence that you have control over and what you can do to reduce the amount of stress they cause you.
Is it possible for you to use a rideshare instead of commuting? Have you considered asking your spouse to watch the children for a night so that you and your girlfriends can have some time to yourselves?
Do you need a “man weekend”? There is no shame in putting your wants and needs out there and asking for them to be satisfied.
4. Put Energy Into Connections That Are In Real-Time
As I was saying before, some of the happiest locations in the world are those that are centered on communities of people who live and work together.
Each person is a component of the whole, and they cooperate in order to support one another.
I think that having relationships with other people, particularly other humans, is one of the primary reasons why we are here on this planet and a significant contributor to the achievement of pleasure.
Brené Brown, a researcher, offers this definition of connection:
“I describe connection as the energy that occurs between individuals when they feel seen, heard, and appreciated; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they take nutrition and strength from the interaction.”
Brené has devoted her whole existence to the study of vulnerability and connection, and she is of the opinion that in order to live a life that is richer in purpose and more meaningful, we must learn to expose our vulnerabilities to other people.
It seems to me that she is correct.
To be vulnerable, you need to connect, and by “connect,” I don’t mean exchanging witty remarks on Facebook; I mean really connecting with another person.
True connection requires not just the ability to comprehend, accept, and hear another person, but also the ability to open oneself up to being understood, heard, and accepted by others.
How are you able to pull this off? Start with individuals who are currently in your life who you believe you can form deeper bonds with, or join a new social club whose activities concentrate on something you like doing.
Consider taking up bowling or attending some lessons on meditation.
Find other people who are interested in the same kinds of activities as you are, and it will be much simpler to make the first connection.
It is up to you to decide what steps to take next. The possibilities are endless.
These may seem like cliched solutions to a truly significant issue, and it’s possible that they are, but they’re a fantastic place to start.
Get a pen and paper, or start typing on your computer.
Create a list of a few things you can do every day to put this advice into action, such as what could help you stop worrying, when you can make time to meditate, which tactics help you manage stress, and how you can invest in real-time relationships.
After that, put what you’ve written into action.
Give each of these four things a go for a month and see if it makes a difference in how you feel.
If it does not, give it another month’s worth of effort before moving on to another method.
It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, are successful or unsuccessful; what matters is that you showed up every day and gave it your very best effort.
The purpose of life is not to cross the finish line but to enjoy the ride.
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