I find that I am the most happy when my joys are small, and somewhat infrequent. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? In this age of abundance to excess, why skimp if we don’t have to? Let’s take advantage of the cornucopia of desire fillers, we think. But what start out as desire fillers become desire fuelers.
Have you ever noticed that you buy an expensive toy (a car, new phone, new tv) etc, and while you are excited and giddy at first, the happiness flatlines? You’re on to the next purchase, next toy. We become accustomed to our surroundings. We acclimate. We adapt. Science shows that our happiness returns to wherever it was before the toy, before the change. We see this quite profoundly in those who get a windfall, such as winning the lottery.
Whatever the change, We forget about it. We take it for granted. What once brought us joy is now our entry point, something we come to expect, when it’s there, we’re not necessarily happy, we don’t notice it. But here’s the kicker, when it’s gone, we get upset.
I was on the job one day, and had to do something that didn’t allow me to listen to my audiobook. In my head, I started grumbling… AS IF, it was my RIGHT to listen to my audiobook on the job. My RIGHT. I DESERVED it. And it’s lack caused me unhappiness. But I didn’t and don’t deserve it; it’s a privilege, something I obviously started taking for granted. And this at first, was a thing to be thankful for,f became something that was owed to me. And it’s lack was unhappiness whereas its existence was expected.
I purposefully DON’T listen to my audiobook all the time. I restrict my comforts in order to let them keep the joy and help me lose the sense of suffering. I don’t listen to my favorite songs all the time either, so I can keep each listen special instead of thinking I need music to function. Food. I know things have gotten out of hand when buying frappucinos from Starbucks or Blizzards from DQ or any number of things feel commonplace and not like I’m getting a small treat. We know that is dangerous because it leads to weight gain and health problems. But beyond, it leads to devaluing these delights. And EXPECTING them not only to be happy, but to start to feel anything at all.
In psychology, with drug addicts, it’s called habituation and in that, more of the drug is needed for a standard state, even MORE for a positive one. What first made you high is now the requirement to feeling normal. We are our own drug addicts.
Do you find yourself miffed if you’re used to AC and somewhere does not have it? How about if you’re not able to watch your tv show when you thought you could? When the fast food restaurant is out of what you wanted? Using AC/watching your show/ or eating a Big Mac might not be situations where you notice joy, it’s just something that is – but when it is gone, it is something to be remarked on.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy what this life has, we should! It’s just important to remember that all of these things, we don’t DESERVE. They are pleasures that should be remembered as such. You don’t have to cut back. If you want to, it does help. But what also might help is to remember to be grateful in every little moment because there is always something to feel gratitude for. Feeing the lack of something is the perfect time to turn your attention to how blessed you were when you had it, and what you are blessed to have right now. Not to bemoan, but to smile. Recognize your expectations, and do away with them, or at least be aware of the discord in how you think the world should be, and how it is.
I get asked often, how I can be so happy, so nearly all of the time. It’s in this. Either I keep my joys small and prized, and/or I remember to be thankful for every moment, recognizing that pain doesn’t need to lead to suffering. Eliminate deserve, expect and fair from your dictionary, and from your mind. Fill all those holes with gratitude and you will be happy too.
Have a marvelous day, everyone.