Also happiness and unhappiness have an expiration date

Happiness and unhappiness also have an expiration date. Happiness must be consciously renewed again and again in small doses. Unhappiness is put into perspective over time and normality returns.

We would like to share with you a shortened version of an article that appeared last Friday in the Swiss NZZ. It is about the fact that both happiness and unhappiness do not last forever.

The psyche always tries to find back to a “normality”

“Humans are biologically wired to get used to stimuli and situations, both good and bad. “The truth is, bad things don’t affect us as much as we would expect. But the same is true for good things,” concludes U.S. psychologist Daniel Gilbert, drawing on numerous research findings. When negative events occur, our “psychological immune system” helps us return to a life of normalcy.”

We are more adaptable than thought

“The researchers studied how drastic life events, such as loss of a partner, unemployment, illness, marriage, separation or divorce, affect life satisfaction. The result: a strong effect emerges shortly after the event. People correctly predict that the change will not last, yet they usually underestimate their ability to adapt. Those who had lost a partner, whose life satisfaction was – contrary to their own prediction – three years later as high as before the loss.”

Life satisfaction depends little on external circumstances

“In general, life satisfaction seems to depend less on external circumstances than is commonly thought. There is ample evidence that our life satisfaction is to a good extent genetically determined. Probably, upbringing and early drastic experiences also play a role. Over the course of a lifetime, however, it is relatively stable….

Our satisfaction cannot be permanently maximized. But the habituation effect can be counteracted. U.S. researchers Ed O’Brien and Robert W. Smith of the University of Chicago and Ohio State University have shown that everyday actions become more enjoyable again when you perform them in new ways.”

Seek newness in the familiar, every day even during the pandemic

“We often don’t recognize our adaptability until after the fact, waiting instead for external changes that make us happier for a short time, only to be annoyed again by new things….

Focus on areas of life that are not affected by the pandemic – they are bound to exist. Look for new things in the familiar. Thinking not only about our physical immune system, but our psychological one as well.”

My journal on Daycatcher helps me a lot with this.

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NZZ 10. April 2021, Glück und Unglück haben ein Ablaufdatum» von Maria Douneva (in German)