Happiness IS Fleeting

June 1, 2021

By Meghan Greenwood

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Happiness-IS-Fleeting-e120h46

As a society, we are in a constant search for happiness. We tell ourselves buying something, obtaining something, and/or accomplishing something will make us happy.

And then we do it. We’re happy for a few minutes, perhaps days. But then it seems to go away and we’re back to square one.

While this seems contradictory to everything we see plastered all over social media – the façade of everlasting happiness – it is exactly how we have evolved as humans.

According to Frank McAndrew, a professor of Pyschology, “Dissatisfaction with the present and dreams of the future are what keep us motivated, while warm fuzzy memories of the past reassure us that the feelings we seek can be had.”

To put it bluntly, if we reached a state of complete happiness, why would we ever try to do anything else?

I also think it may be more primitive. The brain is driven by survival. Our ancestors needed to continuously forage and defend themselves in order to stay alive. We are no longer in a period of daily immediate dangers to our existence, but our brain doesn’t know that.

Think about it. If we reached “happiness” and were complacent in ancient times, we wouldn’t feed ourselves or run from hungry saber-toothed tigers.

The same applies today but in a different context. Our brains won’t let us reach continuous happiness…or for that matter, continuous ANY emotion. We are hard-wired to return to baseline and try, try, try again.

So no, nothing is wrong with you. You are not weird or unique for feeling like you can’t obtain a steady state of happiness.

Instead, we need to focus our efforts on moving the bar. Realizing that little victories, for example, can bring joy. Living in the present in terms of gratitude and savoring. If the happiness bar is set to a level of easy reach, then it will greatly reduce the lulls in between bright moments and keep us in a more pleasant state overall.

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