You’re Not Scared Enough to Be Happy

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What a weird thing to say, “You’re not scared enough to be happy”. While most people just equate happiness with money, being loved, going on an adventure, and so on, most people would say being scared doesn’t push them to be happy.

Usually being scared pushes someone into their flight or fight response. If you’re driving down the street and another car moves over into your lane coming head towards you, what are you going to do? Honk the horn, gulp in fear, jerk the wheel towards the sidewalk? Fear is a pretty good motivator!

Have you ever heard of the term hedonic adaption? By definition it’s

A theory that describes the tendency of a person to remain at a relatively stable level of happiness, despite major positive or negative changes to livelihood or life goals. For example as a person makes more money and achieves certain life goals, their expectations and desires rise in relative proportion to these achievements, resulting in no permanent gain in happiness.

Normal people like to be in a stable environment, it’s easier to live in regular patterns of behavior, conduct, etc, so that you know what’s coming and how to handle it. Many people, when given a major negative or positive incentive will still stay in the same level of happiness according the definition of hedonic adaption. That explains why some people won’t do anything about their failing health, until they have that big heart attack.

So if you’re always unhappy and want to break the mold, what should you do? I encourage you to evoke your flight or flight responses by thinking extreme. What is the worst case scenario of staying in your current state of life if left untouched? For example, I might be unhappy a lot and it causes me to ignore my co-workers at lunch, never engage in water cooler talk, and generally be a grump at work. Normally this will just cause me to be lonely at work, but what if I think of the worst case? What if continuing these behaviors makes me so toxic I lose my job? What if no one will give me a positive reference because I’m so toxic? Think this will push me to get out of the rut of hedonic adaption and force myself to make massive changes to ensure the opposite?

I challenge you to get scared, think of the absolute worst case, and use that fight or flight reaction to force yourself to change for the better in whatever you want to change. Happiness is worth it, but now you know why it takes an intentional effort to be happier in the long run.

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