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Novelty

Hedonic adaptation is the tendency for happiness (or sadness) gained too quickly to revert to a person’s normal level over time. The idea is that people have a set point of happiness that they’re at, and permanent changes to it aren’t likely to come from novelty.

phone on table

An example of this is a lottery winner who experiences a rush of happiness but notices it balancing out over time. Or the rush of enjoyment after purchasing a new phone, only to return quickly to familiar levels of happiness.

One of my weaknesses is novelty. This can come in the form of visiting a new restaurant, trying out a new beer, visiting a new city or country, or scouring the web for new things to read. While this isn’t something I’d want to do every day, it’s something that can build, then a lust for that activity emerges. Once satisfied, it quells and the hunger for it goes away. Changing your default consumption behavior takes a choice to do so.

If you’ve ever been on a long trip and just wanted to relax for a while at home, you likely know what I mean.

Reset

The “reset” idea came from a comment on Reddit.

I’d never connected this desire for novelty with hedonic adaptation, but it does share the same happiness gain that builds up — just in a different way. One way to think of these experiences is a “reset”. Where the trip, yard work, or other activity is a high or low which makes you appreciate what you have. For me, even a morning workout can help reset the day, and make the rest of it seem that much easier.

There are many ways to do this reset that I would love to someday be more familiar with as well — meditation, yoga and other self-reflection. Whatever your way is of resetting, if you understand how it helps you, it’s easier to make sure it’s a part of your life.

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I'm , a full-stack product developer in Salt Lake City, UT. I love enlivening experiences, visualizing data, and making playful websites.

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