Share This Post

Should We Try to Be Less Happy

Whoa, whoa, whoa… the title of this article alone is a trigger to many people to not want to read on. I mean, who in their right mind would seek out ways to be less happy? If there was ever a secret to the meaning of life, the ‘pursuit of happiness’ has to be close to the winner. Doesn’t it?

With so much being written about how to pursue happiness, there is a bit of a well kept secret… trying to pursue happiness, often leads to the exact opposite. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The Hedonic Treadmill

First, if you are successful in finding something that makes you happy, the curse of human nature is that we get used to it. A new car, new house, new relationship, and earning more money are all classic examples of the initial happiness wearing off over time. Then we are already on to the pursuit of the next big thing in search of the same state of elation that we had first experienced when the previous good things happened. Regardless of how much you make, or how much stuff you have, you will likely desire more. You believe that getting ‘more’ will make you happier.

This constant desire and state of pursuit is called the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’. From Wikipedia:

The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness.

More Stimulus, More Dopamine, Less Happiness?

Second, and along the same lines, your body becomes desensitized to stimulus over time and after repetition. Remember in the early 2000’s when someone sent a funny joke or video over email and you shared that one thread with all of your friends. It was novel and exciting to get one or two of those a week. Fast forward to today, and in 60 seconds, we can scroll through dozens of videos, Reels, Stories and TikToks that are just as engaging as the content you got only a couple of times a week. We get trapped, mindlessly scrolling through social media looking for something more exciting than the next. Ultimately we need more and more stimulus, or dozens and dozens of videos, to achieve the same level of happiness we originally got with only one or two.

Dopamine is the real culprit. Dopamine is the ‘feel good drug’ that our brain produces that plays a massive role in  making us feel happy. When we are exposed to the same thing for a long enough time (buying new stuff, making more money or funny videos) it starts to normalize and our bodies produce less and less dopamine for each occurrence. The result can be a relentless pursuit of something even more stimulating to to constantly seek the next big release of dopamine.

By trying to seek happiness and that dopamine release, we are inadvertently making it much harder to do so.

The Fix(es)…

The first fix is to make it harder to buy things or to do the things you want to do. Delay gratification. Set a goal for yourself to finish 30 workouts, then you can buy that new pair of shoes, or close 12 real estate deals in the first 6 months of the year before booking that big trip. If you tie rewards to hard work, you will get a higher level of happiness once you achieve it.

The second fix is to reduce the level of stimulus in your life. Refuse to scroll social media for no more than 10 minutes per day (set a timer), and set limits on your TV binge watching. If there are other negative habits you might have like drinking too much or eating too much junk food, limit those activities to special occasions only.

The end result of both of these fixes will be more genuine happiness and larger releases of dopamine when you actually do those fun things. And remember, science says that too much of a good thing is indeed a ‘thing’.

Relevant Articles

Join Team Blue

At CIR REALTY we make the business of real estate easy. If you are a currently licensed Realtor, or are in the process of getting licensed, meet with us and let us show you why CIR is the best place for you to have a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable real estate career.

Download Our Guide

to the First 6-Weeks in Real Estate!

Fill out the form and the document will be sent to your email!

By downloading this document, I agree to receive exclusive invitation and updates from CIR Realty.