We need far less than we think

I realized during my vacation that we often overlook what truly makes us happy and get lost in the chase of more. The hedonic adaptation mechanism can blind us to the joy of the present.
Jerzy Rajkow 2 min read
We need far less than we think

Ever noticed how the shine of something new, like a shiny gadget or even a life goal achieved, dims over time? This is the hedonic adaptation at work. We constantly adapt to our new circumstances, even those we once believed would make us immensely happy. The risk? Forgetting to be present and appreciating the simple joys of the now.

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Missing the Beauty Around Us

Two weeks of introspection made it clear to me: we often neglect the beauty and comfort in our surroundings. Let's dive into my student years in Gdańsk, a scenic city by the Baltic Sea in Poland. Imagine living a mere 10-minute walk from the beach – sounds idyllic, right? Yet, in a year, I visited that beach just three times. Astonishing? Not quite.

The Universal Blind Spot

It wasn’t just me. Many locals, even those born and raised there, would visit the sea maybe two or three times annually. We get so used to what we have that we forget to appreciate it. This doesn’t apply only to scenic beaches but to every aspect of our lives. We become so engrossed in chasing the next big thing that we forget the treasures in front of us.

Gratitude: The Antidote to Adaptation

The plethora of books on gratitude isn’t just a fad; they address this exact phenomenon. It's about training our minds to recognize and cherish the present. If we don't consciously make this effort, we inadvertently fall into the trap of always looking ahead, missing the present's beauty.

Photo by Jerzy Rajkow 

A Simple Yet Profound Practice

Noting what we're grateful for daily, be it in a calendar or a notepad, is more than just a habit. It's a way of grounding ourselves, reminding us of the happiness we already possess. It isn't about ignoring the future or not having aspirations. It’s about finding balance and remembering that while the future holds promise, the present holds beauty.

The Power of the Present

Let this be your call to action. Stop for a moment. Breathe in the air, feel the ground beneath your feet, and appreciate where you are, right now. The chase for more can wait. Today, recognize your current happiness. It's already there, waiting to be seen.

Questions to ponder:

  1. What simple joys have you overlooked recently?
  2. How often do you pause to appreciate the present moment?
  3. Are you always looking ahead and missing out on today's happiness?
  4. When was the last time you felt grateful for something small?
  5. How can you remind yourself to stay present each day?
  6. Do you have habits that anchor you to the present?
  7. How has the hedonic adaptation affected your perception of happiness?
  8. What are the treasures in front of you that you might be overlooking?
  9. How would your day change if you started it with gratitude?
  10. What steps can you take today to appreciate your current surroundings?
  11. Is there something nearby, like Gdańsk's beach for me, that you've been neglecting?
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