You win the award, get the promotion, hit the bestseller list, marry the person of your dreams, move into the house of your dreams. 18 months. This is about the max amount of time we get to feel the euphoria of something great happening in our lives, and typically it’s even less time than that. Even lottery winners who often go from poverty to riches literally overnight watch their spike in happiness drop back to baseline or even dip lower within 18 months of their landslide.
We are all wired to drift back to our emotional baseline following a peak emotional experience, something psychology researchers called hedonistic adaptation. Yet this tendency puts as at risk for living life on a perpetual treadmill of having to keep running to feel satisfied or get another taste of happiness. Exhausting! This vicious cycle reveals that no matter what we achieve, get, or experience, it never feels enough.
Researchers show 2 things can prevent or slow down our adapation, and I’ve added a third idea from the world of yoga.
- Commit to novelty. Although we all cling to routine and stability, this can contribute to the sense of ‘blah’ we often feel in life. Spice your life up, take chances, learn new things, meet new people, take the road less traveled.
- Practice gratitude. We spend plenty of time focused on what’s not working in our lives and what we think would make us more happier but nearly as much time opening our eyes to the happiness and abundance that already surrounds us.
- Practice neutrality. One of the great teachings from the yogic text the Bhagavad Gita is the power of detachment and learning to be the same whether you are experiencing success or defeat. Working with neutrality allows you to face all events in your life with willingness to accept that no matter what happens, it’s for the best and there are lessons to be learned.