Avoid ‘Hedonic Adaptation’ By Breaking Routines To Stay Happy

Avoid ‘Hedonic Adaptation’ By Breaking Routines To Stay Happy

No matter what it is that makes you happy, you can get bored of it after a while. This is because of a concept known as “hedonic adaptation.” Simply put, there’s no one thing that will make you happy forever. Eventually, you get used to it and need something different. That’s why you need to break your routine.

Photo by John Morgan.

As tips blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, we’re very good at adapting to any circumstances over time. Even if we’ve spent our whole lives pursuing something, once we’ve got it, we start adapting to it. Soon, it becomes normal. Once it’s normal, it can start to get boring. It doesn’t matter that we worked for decades to get there, we’ve got it now so it’s not exciting anymore. To avoid this, University of California professor Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests keeping things novel:

Novelty, variety and surprise can prevent or slow down adaptation. So, with relationships, let’s say you get married and you get a happiness boost. Studies show that it takes about two years for people’s happiness levels to go back to what they were before the wedding. That doesn’t mean that you’re not happy with your marriage, but we get used to it to some extent. So we want to introduce some variety and novelty and surprise to the marriage in a positive way. Don’t watch Netflix every Friday night; mix it up. Do different things with your partner. The kind of things that can lead to more surprises, again in a positive way. Same thing with a job. Open yourself up to new opportunities, challenges, taking risks, learning new things, and meeting new people.

Novelty and variety are difficult because they require us to break routines. Routines are easy. Pursuing something different is hard. However, boredom is powerful. It can drive us to take for granted the things we have in our lives that are valuable. Of course, this should also be balanced with regular gratitude sessions, because let’s face it, a parade of exciting events isn’t always going to be enough.

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