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How to Be Happier: Stop Trying to Be So Happy All the Time

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Hedonic Adaptation = We get used to the things that used to make us happy.

So if this is truly a central part of human nature, psychologist Frank T. McAndrew recently argued at the Conversation — wouldn’t it make sense to stop fighting it? After all, you get used to things because you are supposed to get used to things. It’s for your own good. “These delusions about the past and the future could be an adaptive part of the human psyche, with innocent self-deceptions actually enabling us to keep striving,” McAndrew said. “If our past is great and our future can be even better, then we can work our way out of the unpleasant — or at least, mundane — present.”

It’s a feature, not a bug, as they say. Happiness isn’t meant to last, a statement that sounds incredibly sad, but doesn’t have to be. As McAndrew phrases it, “Recognizing that happiness exists — and that it’s a delightful visitor that never overstays its welcome — may help us appreciate it more when it arrives.”

One particular study published in 1978, which found that, after some time had passed, lottery winners were not that much happier than they were before they’d won. 

Even more telling, they were not that much happier than another group included in that study: people who had recently suffered some terrible accident, and as a result had become paraplegic or quadriplegic. 

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