You know the feeling when Spring rolls around and life feels full of promise again? The daffodils come back, the grass reappears beneath the snow, chipmunks are out again, and the gray clouds of winter give away to blue skies.
I’ve always loved the smell of Spring. It has an invitation in it. An invitation to see with new eyes what we forget or take for granted. Spring is a reminder to value the things that bring us a sense of joy and to be grateful for their presence in our lives.
It’s nature’s way of working against two human biases that combined, make us unhappy, ungrateful, and forever chasing rainbows. The first is “hedonic adaptation”—the tendency to return to a relatively stable mood after the increase or decrease in happiness following a positive or negative event.
Combine that with the “negativity bias”, our tendency to give at least three times more attention, thought and value to negative events over positive ones. This makes it so much more difficult to return to homeostasis (a stable mood) after a setback or a criticism. We’ve all experienced that many times—how a negative comment lingers on while positive ones shed off like water on a rain jacket.
And so we need bigger and bigger positives to feel happy again. That is the hedonic treadmill.
What gets lost on us is the beauty and glory of the little things. The ways our bodies support us, our relationships heal us, the sights and sounds that nourish us all the time. And here’s the double whammy—when we don’t pay attention to these little things, we don’t strengthen the container of the positive that makes us resilient to the knocks and blows of life.
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