Issue 3 of Hacking Your Happiness
In our last bit, we talked a lot about how quickly we adapt to our life circumstances. Adversity and prosperity both eventually become normality.
So, where does that leave most of us? Well, we find ourselves on what is referred to as the Hedonic Treadmill (like a giant hamster wheel for humans).
This treadmill is kept running with the help of our “impact bias” as we become certain that one thing will bring us happiness but fail to account for how our Psychological Immune System will bring us back down to baseline.
And it’s a vicious cycle because “greater past consumption” leads to a higher set norm that causes our satisfaction to return to just how we felt before.
We constantly think we know what will bring us happiness. However, research into “affective forecasting” shows that we’re terrible at making such predictions. We know purchases won’t make us happier for long - but will money?
A study done by Princeton on income and happiness has proven that having more money won’t make you more satisfied once you pass general comfortability.
Yes, the specific level of money needed for comfortability will change with the years, but the general idea behind the study is that once you reach financial stability, no level of upgrades or perks you buy will affect your happiness.
After you can maintain the lifestyle you’re currently living and have money to save and feel secure, you may as well stop right there and assess your situation.
Takeaways and Reflections:
1) The things that you can bring into your life won’t have any effect on your long term happiness.
Are the life upgrades you currently have your eye on worth the extra hours spent working toward that goal? Or would you be better off maintaining your current lifestyle and putting that extra money away?
2) Knowing that your “affective forecasting” doesn’t account for your uncanny ability to return to baseline levels of happiness, which is more important in the long run - time doing things you love, or work to afford things that will only bring you temporary joy?
Next session we’ll go over some things you can start doing to optimize your happiness levels and at the end of the course we’ll uncover the ultimate hack.