There’s a lot of talk about happiness — how to find it, feel it, hang on to it. We covet happiness as though it is an ultimate goal or objective rather than a state we can choose and influence throughout each of the moment of our lives.
While each of us comes equipped with a happiness “set point” — meaning we innately have a personal happiness level (some have a higher happiness set point than others) — our feelings of happiness do rise and fall within that established range.
We may feel happy and exhilarated in the middle of a fun activity, or while acquiring something new only to experience that less-than-satisfied feeling with the very things that once pleased us, after a little time passes. Can anyone say buyer’s remorse?
Appreciation elevates happy feelings
But there are a couple of qualities that can help you sustain your happiness levels and amp up your life experience. They just happen to be a couple of my favorite things to write about: Appreciation and Novelty.
Happiness experts Dr. Kennon Sheldon and Sonja Lyubomirsky asked 481 people about a change they had recently experienced that made them happier, then they talked to those same people six weeks later to see if the happiness had lasted. For most it hadn’t primarily because people had become used to the change that once made them happier and stopped appreciating it. They also stopped having new and positive experiences related to the initial change. The experience had become routine, familiar and that didn’t sustain happiness.
The key then is to appreciate the experiences and things in your life and to keep having new and novel experiences. These two practices can take you to the tippy-top of your happiness set point. Plus, it’s just plain fun. Appreciation and a regular gratitude practice also ease depression and stress and promote physical and mental well-being. Doing new and novel things inspires creativity and curiosity and adds meaning to life.
So today, try something new, notice it, appreciate it, relish it and keep the good feelings going by finding new ways to look at your experience. In the long run, you’ll be happier.
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