In the age of excess we’re living in, this is what we’re all struggling with. It’s never enough. We’re easily bored. We need more and more and more.
What used to give us pleasure doesn’t anymore. We’re never satisfied so it’s easy to get depressed.
We need a bigger, better car, house, vacation, food, clothes, etc.
And it doesn’t help that the media is constantly telling us we need all these things in order to be happy.
We go on the treadmill, adapt to the pleasure (hedonism), and need stronger and stronger stimulants to give us the same pleasure as before, thereby putting us on this race that we can’t win which leads to very dangerous behavior.
If this isn’t dealt with, it can get really out of hand in so many different ways, emotionally, financially, socially, etc.
So how do you counter hedonic adaptation?
There doesn’t seem to be any way out.
We know that more will never end and if we stay where we are, we’re so dissatisfied.
What the heck do we do?
The solution is right in front of our eyes but it’s so easy to miss.
Rather than always wanting more to get our fix, we should be focusing on WAY LESS and what I mean by that is not getting rid of all our stuff and living a minimal life, although that can help.
I’m talking about thinking about what your life would be like with EXTREME LOSS of what you have.
Think about what your life would be like without your family, friends, your car, your house, your laptop, phone, and you begin to see that kind of life would be REALLY bad.
It would really suck right? You’re miserable, you’re lonely, life is a slog, you have to do 10 times as much work to get the same result had you had all those things.
If ONLY there was a magical genie who could get you all that stuff back.
There IS – and it’s YOU, and once you get out of that thought experiment and realize that everything you’ve missed you now have – your life is pretty damn good!
And guess what?
That’s the SAME LIFE YOU’RE LIVING RIGHT NOW.
Realize NOTHING in your environment has changed.
Only your perception has changed.
Now this doesn’t mean we should never seek pleasure in external things. It’s OK to enjoy life but we need to change our approach.
If you think about it, the majority of our pleasure comes from the ANTICIPATION, not the exact experience itself.
We’ve all had the experience of planning a vacation and soaking in the anticipation of it, counting down the days, dreaming what it would be like, looking forward to it, and we went on the vacation and that was good and now it’s back to the day to day life.
Now that you know anticipating is key, it behooves you to SPREAD OUT your pleasures.
Conventional thinking dictates pleasure should be 24/7 but you get used to it and require bigger and bigger amounts to experience the same amount of pleasure and by following this path, you lose the ability to experience small joys.
A person who can fully experience the small joys in life will gain MORE pleasure than a person who needs to fly a jet to an island and party all the time.
We’ve internalized these rules in our minds that the only way can enjoy life is if we do things that cost a lot of money and do it all the time.
Along with spacing pleasure out to anticipate it, it’s also good to ROTATE pleasure so you don’t get used to things. Change where you eat, where you go, what pleasurable activities you do, etc.
This way, it’s harder to adapt and you keep everything in check.
By meditating on what our life would be like WITHOUT the many things we currently have in our life, by spacing out our pleasures and savoring their anticipation, and by rotating our pleasures, we can escape the hedonic treadmill that ensnares so many and end up having a more pleasurable life than a billionaire who needs constant pleasure 24/7, seeking bigger and better things just to feel the same amount of pleasure we get from sipping a cup of green tea while looking at the sun rise in the early morning.