As we come off a week of unbelievably ridiculous cold temperatures, I actually feel like the glass is half-full when I look at the pictures from #snowmageddon coming out of Newfoundland! I’ll take frigid cold over not being able to find my vehicle under 7 feet of snow. No question.
So it was a perfect time to read my new book Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. Coincidentally, she talks about hedonic adaptation. Up until some reading I did last week, I had never heard of it before! And it pops up again!?
The universe is speaking and I’m doing my best to pay attention.
This is a pretty good summation from Lukas Havranek: “The thing is we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy. One of the problems causing this is called hedonic adaptation - standing for our tendency to consider anything new as a standard quickly and therefore losing the joy coming out of it. If not recognized and tamed it may result in increasingly expensive purchases in desperate attempt to get more pleasure - hedonic treadmill. It is similar to junkies trying to get the same level of satisfaction by increasing doses of drugs that they are getting used to. If we understand hedonic adaptation that reduces the excitement of reaching one's goals or making purchases, we can focus on more important stuff that will give us fulfillment - relationships, meaningful work or developing our strengths.”
Happiness junkies. That’s essentially what we are.
So here’s a small section to share from Joyful. She is talking about our obsession with material things but it absolutely applies elsewhere.
“All children live in a world rich with surprises. Each new thing, no matter how ordinary, inspires a sense of wonder and delight. But novelty naturally declines with age, and our surroundings begin to dull with familiarity…hedonic adaptation is often known as the hedonic treadmill, because the cycle can repeat endlessly without bringing us any closer to happiness.”
“By restoring a sense of whimsy and unpredictability to our surroundings, small bursts of surprise also change our relationship to the world as a whole. Surprise destabilizes us a little, just enough to introduce a new idea or different perspective. It brings back a bit of that childlike freshness. By snapping us out of our habitual thought patterns, a small surprise can reset our joy meters and allow us to see with new eyes.”
It’s kind of funny in hindsight.
It was a halfway-through-September blog where I was starting to lose faith in the approach I take in my classroom. The 12s were bucking me on a lot of things.
Like the fact that I had tables. (How do you collaborate in separate rows?)
That the tables weren’t giving them much room. (It was more room than a single-person desk!)
That they had a seating plan. (Even though I had a valid reason for it, and switched it up everyday.)
Oh, they had a lot of complaints and didn’t seem to feel surprised or inspired by the change.
But here it comes. This week I lined my tables up in two long rows for an activity with the 7s. Because I see the 12s in the middle of my two grade 7 groups, I didn’t switch it back. And what did I hear?
“This isn’t going to stay this way, is it?”
It was actually a refreshing change for me, and for all the groups. It meant a brief return to a more linear, structured approach to the room…and it was just enough to ‘destabilize’ us and keep things fresh.
The idea of surprise is one that I need to remember to incorporate. Even now, I’m brainstorming ideas for tomorrow…and I’m thinking our new VP is due for some shenanigans. Tomfoolery? Is there a plural form for Hullabaloo?
On an unrelated note, anyone have some confetti lying around? Amphibians? Even a whoopie cushion?
It’s warming up, so have a great week everyone! I hope there are a few surprises in there to add some joy to your days too.
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