Happiness is like Soap Bubbles

Happiness doesn’t usually last. Most of us find that happiness is like a soap bubble. It floats away and disappears. Do you remember how excited you were when you moved into your new home? Or started your new job? Do you also remember that it didn’t last?

Happiness Fades

Happiness fades. Psychologists call this phenomenon hedonic adaptation. That means that no matter how good something makes us feel (or even bad), we tend to drift back to where we started. Researchers tell us that we enjoy the first bite of something delicious much more than the third or the tenth. Yup, even caviar and champagne get boring. And it’s the same with the big stuff. You’ve heard of the lottery winners who weren’t happy eighteen months later. We always end up where we started.

Two Reasons why Happiness Fades

Here’s the secret why happiness fades.

  • When something positive happens, like you move into a great job, there are usually lots of other positive events happening at the same time. You get a great office. You love your new boss. There’s free office food. But over time, there are fewer positive events to experience. You get used to it all and don’t notice the changes. Since you have fewer positive events to enjoy, you experience fewer positive emotions.
  • Now on to the second reason. Even when something positive happens (let’s say you moved into a nursing facility you love), the change begins to simply be seen as the “new normal.”  As a result, you feel like you need more than just a great place to be. We continuously shift our standards upward once we’ve reached them and we feel like we have to have more.

How Much of our Happiness is under our Control?

That’s what researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky wanted to find out. And here are her conclusions:

  • 50 percent of our happiness set-point is due to genetics.
  • 10 percent comes from where we were born and to whom.
  • 40 percent is in our control.

Make Happiness Last

Since we can control a whopping 40 percent of our happiness, let’s see how to do it.

  • Variety. We should always introduce something new into the positive events in our life. We shouldn’t simply repeat them over and over again. So if you’ve just moved into a new nursing facility, make sure you get to know the other residents.
  • Appreciation. Focus on the great things in your life. Don’t take them for granted. Savor the gardens around you. Relish how relaxed the greenery makes you feel. By experiencing gratitude, you’ll always feel fortunate for being in your current circumstances.