You have a job that you like. And, when you finish everyday, you come home to a cozy apartment that works fine for now…you’ll definitely move into something nicer when you get a raise. But, your spouse is fun, and you get along really well- you don’t see each other too often between your crazy work schedules and juggling your adult responsibilities….but one day, things will be different. Then, I’ll be happy. Then, we’ll have time.
“If I can just hang on a little longer…It’s really not that bad.”
When you were a kid, you probably rode in the back seat on, at least, a few occasions impatiently counting down the hours until you reached your final destination. In some ways, many of us continue to conform to this way of thinking. “Life is out there somewhere…; One day when this happens, I’ll ____; One day when I ____, then……”
Your life is now– in this moment. No amount of wishful thinking can change what is currently unfolding, but…it’s your perspective that can change. Think this article is a waste of your time, then it is. Think it’s a spark that will set your new life journey on fire? Then, you’re right! Over your own thoughts, you have all the control- your thoughts are what shape your reality.
The Buddha said, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” Becoming aware of the power of our thoughts is the very way we can take back control and create a life we love in the present moment.
If you think your job is a means to an end or that happiness exists in a prize dangling at the end of the rainbow, your well-being could benefit from making a few, simple mental adjustments. By focusing on the negative, we taint our worldview. By hanging happiness in front of us, we fail to connect with the joy in each and every moment.
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If you believe that happiness is somewhere out there, how will you ever find it? Chances are you won’t. If you want to be happier now, 1.) Don’t be ashamed of your desire to live life in the present moment, and 2.) Change your internal soundtrack- ditch those repetitive, negative thoughts, and be intentional about viewing things in a more positive light.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The Positive Psychology Program defines the hedonic treadmill as “a theory that proposes that people return to their level of happiness, regardless of what happens to them.” Meaning nothing external can actually boost your happiness levels- at least, not for long.
Also known as hedonic adaptation, the hedonic treadmill is the reason that we don’t have that huge spike in happiness when we, at long last, reach our final destination. It’s the reason that we go back to feeling the way we’ve always felt- even after getting a raise, ticking off a bucket list trip, getting a new car, or landing our dream job. Dismal, huh?
Well, speaking of how changing your perspective, consider the other side of the coin. The hedonic treadmill is also responsible for protecting us from the worst of life’s woes. After the death of a loved one, getting diagnosed with a life threatening condition, or enduring an agonizing heartbreak, the hedonic treadmill helps us to continue to maintain a certain baseline of happiness insulating us from the worst of loss and devastation.
We aren’t just telling you to simply look on the bright side. That wouldn’t be helpful…We want to show you the scientific data that proves you do have the power to change your perspective no matter what circumstances might be out of your control.