Hi friends! When we liken something to “the treadmill” it usually means unending drudgery but did you know our minds strive to keep us on an even balanced path, this is known as the hedonic treadmill and that is what we are going to chat about today in this weeks Konmari vlog! *If you are new here “Konmari” refers to the boom The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and it was the book that helped me declutter my art room and my home by only keeping items that “Sparked Joy.” I highly recommend it:)
Today we are talking about hedonic adaptation, or the ability of your brains to seek out a balance after something good or bad happens to us. When I first completed the Konmari declutter in my craft room I felt fantastic! I had a cleaner more spacious room and I was on cloud 9! A month or so later I was feeling a sense of let down, I could not see that I had made a difference, I had gotten used to the “new normal” and I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything. I decided to do another round of Konmari…then I learned about the hedonic treadmill and it all made sense!
Here is the short video by TED explaining the Hedonic Treadmill.
Have you ever said things like:
- “I’ll be so happy when I lose 25 pounds!”
- “If only I could get that promotion my life would be perfect!”
- “If I had a big house like her’s I’d surely be happy!”
- “If my art was every published I’d be happy!”
- “If I had “x” amount of dollars in the bank I would feel satisfied”
If you then hit one of those goals you might know what I mean. I thought if I ever got my work in a magazine then I would be satisfied, then it was when I get my own column I would be happy, then it was if I was hired to teach at a convention I’d be happy or hitting 100k YouTube subscribers. It turns out I am just as happy now as I was before. Now this might sound incredibly ungrateful and I do not mean it that way at all BUT I have found achieving a goal to be kind of a let down. I think that the work is the reward and pursuing and progress feels better than hitting an end goal. Think about it, remember when you were first learning a new skill whether it is knitting, painting or playing an instrument, think about the thrill of making something that resembled a scarf, picture or a song. Those little wins kept you going. As you begin to master a craft you need to make it more complicated and advanced and the thrill you get from each step higher is not as great as the first thrills you got from knitting row upon row of a wobbly-edged scarf. Finally you have mastered a skill and you are leveled out on the treadmill.
I think the way to maximise your happiness without falling prey to the treadmill is to set daily goals that will put you on a positive path while minimising the “let down” of goals. The other thing about goals is how disappointed you can feel if you don’t hit them, say if your goal is to lose 30lbs by Christmas and you east healthy and exercise every day and only lose 20 you will feel disappointed but if you said “I am going to walk 45 minutes a day, write down everything I eat and make healthy food choices until Christmas” and you look and see you lost 20lbs you would feel great for sticking to a plan and not feel bad because it wasn’t 30. Does that make sense? Make your daily actions reflect who you want future you to be.
How to swap goals for plans:
- Instead of “I will learn to paint like DaVinci” Try “I will paint 1 hour a day for 3 months”
- Instead of “I will lose 30lbs by Christmas” Try “I will do some form of exercise each day and eat reasonable portions of healthful food going forward”
- Instead of “I will have my art published within 6 months” try “I will send out 10 submissions to craft magazines per month.”
Get the idea? And also thing learning new things help push us past the “leveling out” plateau we hit in all areas that we are trying to master. If you painting is at a standstill try collage, knitting or jewelry making. By switching gears you put your brain in that fertile learning space and a colorway or technique in another project might push you past the block you are facing in your main art form. That’s why cross training is so effective in fitness. Try art/craft cross training (I’d say it’s more fun too LOL!)
One more thing to try…I was listening to the Happiness podcast by Gretchen Rubin the other day and one of her viewers called in and suggested making a “Ta-Da!” list instead of a To-do list, at the end of the day (or week) write down everything you accomplished. That way when you are feeling overwhelmed like you haven’t done anything you can look back at your Ta-Da list and see that you really are killing it:) It is the same principle of taking before pics of your pre konmari home, when you have evidence of what you have achieved it helps pull you off the treadmill. You could also keep a blog and post what you make each week, seeing the work add up pays off!
I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment below and continue the conversation. Happy crafting!