Some people believe they will be happier when they get a new house, new car, promotion or pay rise. They may be happier for a while and then their happiness returns to its previous level. There are different theories of why this happens. One explanation, hedonic adaptation, is that people simply get used to the ‘new’ thing or a change in their life circumstances.
I remember the great excitement when our first television, a black and white box on wooden legs, was delivered back in 1963. It was such a thrill for the whole family. We sat in the lounge room enthralled with episodes of The Beverley Hillbillies which was a brand new show back then.
Soon it was no big deal. I have had the same experience over the years with my first colour television, microwave, VCR, computer and so the list goes on. In the beginning these items did raise my happiness level and then they become the norm.
People tend to have more things these days and there are higher expectations. Does this make people happier? Once a person has become accustomed to their new possession or increased income there is a tendency to again want more. The memory of the buzz, even though it was short lived, can lead to a desire for something bigger and brighter, or an even higher income.
However, some people make a habit of practicing gratitude for what they already have and avoid always wanting more. They value their family, friends and everyday pleasures as well as their material possessions. Those who feel gratitude don’t waste time and energy comparing themselves to others. They are happier because they appreciate what they have instead of yearning for what they don’t have. They are also enjoying living in the now.