Hedonic Adaptation, or the concept of running on a Hedonic Treadmill, is the theory that explains how humans can quickly return to a baseline level of happiness, no matter the good things they may acquire or that happen to them.
I'm sure you've felt this when you imagined that a new phone, car, job, routine, or vacation would provide you with lasting happiness.
Sure, there was a temporary spike in happiness, but it didn't last.
So to me the question then is: how can I not look outside myself for extrinsic happiness while savoring that which I already have?
As is the answer to most things, I established that the answer for me is gratitude. Specifically, particular gratitude.
Let me explain.
I've found that the more specific I can be in my gratitude, especially for recurring activities, then the more grateful I can feel. This seems to both elevate the joy I find in said activity and (possibly) elevates my baseline level of happiness.
After a full year of taking Leon to various parks twice a day, we recently found a new park. This new park is closer to our home (and thus more convenient) than every other park we used to take him to.
How could it be that a couple who takes their dog to a park twice per day and utilizes AllTrails did not know of a park so close to their home?
Anyway, I was thrilled Andie found it. The park has a beautiful trail, pretty trees, and naturally, Leon loves it. Yes, he loves every park, but at this one he gets to hurdle more downed trees than he typically can and for this, he gives it an A+. (Which ties his grade for every single other place we've ever taken him.)
Now, it would have been easy to feel the joy in finding that park, walking it for the first time, and then taking it for granted every other time we go there. But I'll tell you, I do strictly the opposite via the practice of particular gratitude.
Instead of just being generally grateful for the park, I continue to sit in gratitude for particular aspects of this park and the specific reasons in which I (and we) can be grateful for it. The shadows the trees create, the narrow path to the wide-open grass field, the downed tree I get to walk over and then duck under, the plentiful wildlife that has Leon at a dead sprint, the various downed trees that I can sit on and find a few mindful breaths…and so much more.
Each time I’ve gone to this same park, I find new, particular reasons to be grateful for it, while continuing to be grateful for the specific aspects of this park that have brought and continue to bring me joy.
Whatever recurring thing you might do: a trip to the zoo, a visit to the library, the Costco run… enjoy finding and savoring particular gratitude.