1. Keep experiencing positive change.
2. Keep enjoying these experiences.
Professor of psychological sciences Kennon Sheldon believes happiness is a ‘never-ending quest’ that peaks during times of positive change and falls again soon after. People who start new relationships, for example, tend to feel happier because they relish the excitement that comes with having a new partner. However, a few weeks down the line the relationship becomes less of a novelty, they stop doing fun things and start wishing their partner was better looking.
Sheldon and his co-workers questioned 481 people about their happiness levels. Six weeks later the same participants were asked to report any positive changes in their lives and six weeks after that their happiness levels were tested again and compared with the original results. The psychologists found that for most people, the boost of happiness didn’t last and happiness levels would drop back to their original state.
Sheldon argues that people get used to the things that initially make them happy, causing their levels to drop back to ‘normal’. Due to varying genetics, everyone has a different state of natural happiness, and this can range from anywhere between sombre and very jolly. His research may be able to help people train themselves to stay at the top of their ‘set-point’ by learning how to maintain the feeling of happiness instead of allowing it to drop.
Sheldon said: “Relying on material purchases to make us happy can lead to a faster rise in aspirations, like an addiction. Hence, many purchases tend to be only quick fixes. Our model suggests ways to reduce the ‘let down’ from those purchases. For example, if you renovate your house, enjoy it and have many happy experiences in the new environment, but don’t compare your new decor to the Joneses’.”
As the saying goes – “happiness isn’t getting what you want, but wanting what you get”.
To find out how a counsellor could help you to boost your happiness levels and even help increase the quality of your life, please visit our Types of Distress pages.
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