Avoiding the Rut

Bored man stuck in a rut and sitting on a car

Could variety really be the spice of life? Well, maybe!! To many of us, happiness seems fleeting. Science calls this the hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaption. You see our brains adapt to each new happy moment we experience. The excitement of a new job or the thrill of a race won, wears off as our brains naturally adjust to the new normal. Pretty soon the joy induced gives way to the mundane. How can we make these moments last? Researchers Kennon Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky suggest two tools to slow down or even halt our adaption to the new normal.

Instead of getting into a boring routine with your newly discovered source of enjoyment, shake things up a bit. You and your spouse should try a new restaurant or seek out various adventures together. Once you get that promotion, seek out diverse challenges and new opportunities within your position. In addition to mixing things up with variety try sprinkling a little gratitude on your happiness. Taking time to appreciate the small moments of joy your new achievement brings will create sustained feelings of pleasure. It may seem simple, but our brains are really wired to experience happiness by consistently stringing together enjoyable moments.

Imagine how this nurturing of your joyful moments might affect your life longterm. Gratitude and variety have the ability not only to keep you alert and aware but can prevent you from just mindlessly going through the daily routine. Work, dinner, clean house, Netflix, sleep and repeat. Instead, the joy produced can help keep your brain open to the possibilities. When in this mindset, you just might meet a cherished new friend instead of a new character on your favorite TV show… Or it just may help you take advantage of the new job instead of working the same old grind. Imagine that! You really can own your happiness and wellbeing!?

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