Why Chasing Happiness Is Futile


The following meal I eat will likely be the most effective meals I’ve ever had. 

My grandfather had colon most cancers. My father had colon most cancers. Fortunately, they each recovered with surgical procedure to take away it, but when the development continues, I’m subsequent. So, on the “younger” age of 36 (I used quote marks as a result of that is the oldest I’ve ever been), I’m getting a colonoscopy.

To organize for a colonoscopy, you should filter your digestive system in order that the physician can see what’s up… there. Once I say clear it out, I imply CLEAR. IT. OUT. The day earlier than the process, you’re handled to a buffet of laxatives, adopted by ingesting a gallon of colon prep liquid, and naturally, you’ll be able to’t eat any meals. The day finally ends up being like that one scene from Dumb and Dumber on repeat. Care for your colon, children.

All in all, will probably be nearly two days between meals for me. Sheesh. I’ve been taking meals without any consideration. I’m wanting judgmentally upon my previous self, who appeared judgmentally on the contents of my fridge and thought there’s nothing to eat. Choosy idiot of a Took, I used to be!

I might scale a mountain to eat a stale pretzel proper now. I might eat fuel station sushi. And my meals expertise jogs my memory of how happiness works. It’s dynamic and relative. Dangerous meals to a hungry particular person (me) tastes significantly better than connoisseur meals to a full or spoiled particular person.

Simply because the primary slice of pizza is heavenly, doesn’t imply eight extra slices will likely be 8x higher. It could be 8x worse!

Human happiness isn’t an absolute scale you can climb larger and better.

Josh Radnor performed the primary character Ted on the present How I Met Your Mom. He’s skilled this idea. Radnor stated:

“When How I Met Your Mom first went on the air, I bumped into an actress that I knew and she or he stated, ‘Are you identical to so pleased on a regular basis?’ And I keep in mind considering, ‘Does she actually suppose that when CBS picked up this present, it left me with an incapability to really feel something apart from unbridled pleasure?’ However the joke was on me as a result of I sort of thought it might.”

Any constructive windfall of excellent fortune will spike an individual’s happiness ranges larger quickly: successful the lottery, a brand new relationship, successful an award, having your present picked up by CBS, and so forth. Nevertheless it acts like a drug in that the preliminary excessive can’t be sustained for lengthy. It is going to shortly dissipate, normally sooner than you count on. And that’s an excellent factor.

Should you attempt to maintain a excessive (which requires searching for larger highs), it’s possible you’ll lengthen the magic, certain, however you additionally elevate your expectations, making it more and more tougher to get that feeling till it turns into unattainable. That is known as the hedonic treadmill, as a result of irrespective of how exhausting you chase this sense, you’ll by no means completely attain it and keep there. No person ever will as a result of the human mind isn’t designed that method!

The tougher you chase happiness as a vacation spot, the much less glad you’ll be (no matter what you accomplish).

The very best highs in life are literally the best hazard to your long-term contentment. The upper you increase the bar, the extra seemingly you’re going to be below it. There are lots of individuals on the market who’re “dwelling the dream” and fully depressed as a result of their expectations are too elevated. Radnor observed this direct correlation with the present: “Because the present acquired extra profitable, I acquired extra depressed.” (full speech hyperlink)

Radnor gained’t get a lot sympathy as a beloved millionaire on a success TV present, however let’s not dismiss his emotions. Radnor’s emotions are actual, affordable, and customary in his state of affairs. Jim Carrey as soon as stated, “I feel everyone ought to get wealthy and well-known and do every thing they ever dreamed of to allow them to see that it’s not the reply.”

Now, to deal with the elephant on this dialog, in fact everybody would reasonably cry in a mansion than in a cardboard field. However the reality is that nice success makes individuals extra prone to this phenomenon, and this phenomenon has an important lesson for all of us. It’s maybe a lesson that we study at completely different instances, and at completely different ranges.

It’s solely while you begin checking off your whole wildest desires (as Carrey says) that you just absolutely notice there’s no vacation spot such as you thought there’d be. You by no means arrive. Most of us don’t get to expertise all of our wildest desires, so we keep on this fantastical mindset of if solely I had this, then I’d be pleased.

The true reply to better happiness lies elsewhere, and it applies to everybody, no matter their standing, fame, or fortune. 

Why A Assorted Lifetime of Contentment Is Finest

If there’s one factor I’ve realized over this previous 12 months, it’s that life’s center and low moments have a lot of worth. They aren’t as enjoyable because the highs—I spent hours in my toilet right this moment—however they make highs doable and extra satisfying. Give it some thought. You possibly can’t have highs with out lows or middles. Think about an ideal life through which all you ever skilled have been highs. They wouldn’t be highs anymore, they’d turn into regular. 

Replace: The colonoscopy went nicely. No polyps both. And boy do I admire meals now!

life has challenges. It entails exhausting work, play, and issues to resolve. It has lows, middles, highs, and occasional colonoscopies (apparently). Collectively, this selection can weave a material of contentment for those who so select it. The lows maintain you humble and off of the hedonic treadmill, and so they not solely make you admire the highs extra, they make you admire the center, the place we spend most of our lives! For instance, individuals eat day by day and there’s nothing extra strange than that, however I can guarantee you that fasting adjustments that dynamic. That’s relative happiness in a nutshell. Nutshell. Mmm… I wish to eat pistachios now.

Should you go with out meals for a day or two, you’ll admire your subsequent meal a minimum of twice as a lot!

The massive takeaways are concepts that may serve you for the remainder of your life. You possibly can apply these immediately and anyplace. These are merely views it’s possible you’ll select to undertake if you want.

  1. Don’t count on fixed happiness. It is going to make you sadder than an individual who doesn’t accomplish that.
  2. Don’t chase happiness too exhausting, as a result of in one of the best case situation, you’ll create a hedonic treadmill state of affairs, which may solely finish in unhappiness (hopefully resetting your expectations).
  3. Do select contentment or happiness when doable. This quantities to being grateful. You possibly can admire the excessive with out anticipating or chasing extra. It will maintain you in a wholesome place mentally.
  4. Be taught to understand the struggles and challenges of life for a way they maintain you grounded, humble, and capable of expertise highs on a extra profound degree.

Each particular person’s life could have a distinct ratio of lows, middles, and highs. However I feel one of the best perspective applies to all of us.

Relatively than count on or chase a sense that can come and go, merely do your greatest in life and admire the sensation of happiness when it’s there. It is going to come naturally and extra typically this manner.


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