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June 12th, 2018

Hedonic Adaptation and 10 Steps to a Better Life

By Chris Moriarity, MA, FA, VP of Business Development

Our lives are pretty amazing! But very few people seem to be happy. While this may be a bit dramatic, at the end of the day, most successful people don’t seem to feel successful: they can never quite scratch that itch or keep that gap in their life filled.

The psychological term for this is hedonic adaptation. Simply put, it’s the high-achiever’s treadmill of doom. We set a goal, we achieve that goal. We get a bump in self-worth and life is great…for a while.

By becoming used to achieving high goals, inevitably, all success becomes moot. We begin to pursue the next goal that’s going to connect those dots and fill that need for success, because THIS TIME the feeling is going to last. Round and round we go, constantly chasing and achieving, buying and acquiring. As Chuck Palahniuk said, “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people, we don’t like.”

How many adults do you meet aren’t 99% exhausted?

They say that money isn’t everything, but I’d like to see you live without it. Far too many people fall into the spending trap. The thinking is obvious: if I can surround myself with the symbols of success, then I must be successful.

There’s a bumper sticker that says “somewhere, someone with less than you is happy.” The simple truth is, many of don’t know how to turn the need for more off. Some of us aren’t ready to turn to it off, but some of us desperately need to. If we don’t, we’re going to have a lot of dark days.

Many fall into this trap because they see their behaviors as making sacrifices, instead of clear choices. The high-achievers are nobody’s victims, but they can fail to see the impact of their choices on those around them. In most cases, they’ll claim the long-hours and neglect are somehow on-behalf of those they love.

They truly believe that each choice is leading them closer to their final goal. The finish line where they know all of their dreams will be realized and they will never feel less than successful. They believe that when this day comes, they can finally sleep, or take the vacation, or spend the evening with their family. But, this day never comes, and anything that resembles a finish line, is quickly replaced with a new more distant line.

They say life is what happens while you’re making other plans.

Real life isn’t big, it’s very small. But we feel compelled to push it to a larger grandiose stage, but when you break it all down, the only thing that really counts are the people around you.

If you don’t believe me, pull out your phone or a photo album and see which pictures you enjoy the most. It’s never the photos of cars, houses or landscapes, it’s always the pictures that capture a memory with your loved ones (and yes, your pets count).

With cameras being all around us, it no surprise that over 1 trillion pictures are take annually, the question to ask is, how many do people go back and look at? Very few. We’re too busy searching for the next stupid photo of our food that we’re not engaging with those around us.

Conversations have become meaningless and hollow. But they don’t have to be! Put down that phone, change your thinking about what “success” is, and take ownership of giving yourself, your spouse, your friends, and your family a better life.

10 New Steps to a Better Life

  1. Get off your phone at 6 unless you’re coordinating social plans. No, if’s, and’s, or buts.
  2. No phones until after breakfast. The screen should not be the first thing to get your attention in the morning. That respect belongs to your spouse or your children. They deserve that time and so do you.
  3. Put your phones in a stack when you go out to dinner. If someone checks their phone, they owe the table a round of drinks.
  4. Everyone helps with dinner and everyone helps clean up. No divisions of labor and – yep you guessed it! – no phones. You’ll be amazed how much better your day and your communication gets.
  5. If you have a dog, walk them every day as a family. After dinner is the perfect time. It’ll keep your energy up and the communication flowing.
  6. Always go to bed at the same time as your significant other (phones off). This should be coveted time to discuss the day, plan for tomorrow, and just spend time together. If your spouse stops being important, no problem, you can practice on your next one, and then the next, until you get it.
  7. Flirt with your spouse in public. This goes for both sexes.
  8. If you have work to do in the evening, don’t. It’s a trap. Go to bed at your normal time and get up early. You mind will be sharp and you’ll complete the work much more easily.
  9. Protect your vacation time.
  10. Mentally compliment every single person you pass every single day. It’ll boost your mood and teach you to look for the good in everyone.

The reality is, you become your surroundings and vise-versa. Follow these steps and you may be surprised at how your relationships improve, and your confidence and satisfaction with life increase.

For more ideas on how to achieve your goals while protecting what really matters in life, contact Chris today at chris@productivedentist.com for a Complimentary Practice Discovery.  See where your practice stands financially and see how to take advantage of opportunities in your current scheduling tactics, productivity, and more.

Get Your Complimentary Practice Discovery Today!

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