Falling in love and getting married bump up happiness for a year or two but then we return to baseline.
Turns out 50 per cent of human happiness is genetic and 10 per cent is due to random events. What we have to work with is the remaining 40 per cent.
Annoying feature #2: Our minds don’t think in terms of absolutes. Instead, we compare ourselves to other people. “The mind sucks at picking reference points,” Santos explains. “It just soaks in whatever reference point we have.” Co-workers, Facebook friends, Brad Pitt, Beyoncé: We measure ourselves against all of them.
Annoying feature #3: “Our minds are built to get used to stuff.”
A new job or a new car quickly become routine. Even lottery winners habituate to their newfound riches and return to their baseline happiness levels. Santos terms this “hedonic adaptation.”
Annoying feature #4: Our minds never seen to figure out that annoying feature #3 is a thing. We keep thinking that purchases like the newest iPhone will make us happy. They might – but never for long.
So what’s to be done? Santos outlines 10 strategies.
1: Invest in experiences, not stuff. Consumer goods stick around to disappoint but the memory of a trip lasts forever.
2: Thwart the tendency to get used to things by savouring moments, sharing experiences with other people, journaling about feelings of gratitude and short-circuiting the mind by pretending that a day at school or work is the last or imagining we had never met a friend or mate. “Do anything to pop out of hedonic adaptation,” Santos advises.
John M. Richardson is a high school teacher and adjunct professor in the uOttawa Faculty of Education.
This content was originally published here.