I watched a documentary called Happy last week. It was all about the things that make us happy in life, and how much of it is external, and how much we can actually control.
According to the movie, once you have basic needs met, having a lot more money doesn’t make you any happier. People who make $70,000 a year report the same levels of happiness as people who make $700,000 a year.
One thing I found very interesting was a concept called the hedonic treadmill, or hedonic adaptation. Basically, we continually adapt to what is “normal” for us, so things that start out as new and exciting, quickly become “normal” and commonplace, and we continue to seek new things or experiences because we’ve adapted and adjusted to things that we already have and know.
This is extremely true with material possessions, and it’s definitely something that hit home with me while watching the movie. Sometimes I will see a new dress or shirt that I absolutely HAVE to have, and so I get it and bring it home and I love it for awhile, but then after awhile it’s not my “new dress” anymore it’s just another thing that I own, and then I’ll see something else that I want just as much as I wanted the last new dress. We like things more before we have them, and then once we have them, we want new things. So things are worth more us before they are actually ours.
I don’t usually make impulse buys, usually if there is something I want, I’ll go home and think it over, and come back later to get it if I’m still thinking about it. There is a perfume in Macy’s I’ve been visiting for almost 5 years now, because I love it, but if I actually bought it and spent the money to take it home with me, would I still feel the same way about it?
That might not be a great example, because after 5 years, I probably would love it just as much as I thought I would, but for a lot of the things I own, that’s not the case. Sometimes I think the anticipation of getting something that I want, the act of denying yourself the thing you want the most, is better than actually getting it. Just like sometimes the delicious tension right before you kiss somebody new for the first time is better than the kiss itself.
According to Happy, our level of happiness is 50% determined by genetics, 10% determined by outside circumstances like money, status and power, and 40% determined by intentional activities such as:
1. Spending time with friends and family
2. Exercising, or moving your body, especially in fun and novel ways
3. Feeling like you’re a part of something larger by participating in your community and the world at large
|Participating in novel physical activity with a friend 🙂|
|The Colour Run|
Check out Happy, currently available on Netflix.