How to Be Happier: Get Essential and Do Less


109: How to Be Happier: Get Essential and Do Less


This week we are talking about getting happier and what to do when things in life don’t feel like they are going quite right. Often  and how our first idea is to do “more” or to add “more” things in.  In other words I need to get more sleep, I need to meditate longer, I need to work more hours this week or I need to get more organized. The old idea is that you must add things in but perhaps, we need to remove some things instead.

But first, let’s talk about the hedonic treadmill  hedonic adaptation and the “hedonic treadmill.” This is the reality that we habituate to the “good” things in our life such as the new tv, the new car, the new relationship, etc…This is not only the reason we can begin to feel like something is missing but also the main reason that when we “add” something in, eventually as it fails to satisfy. And, we do this not just with stuff but we also do it with our activities. Even though it is true that we tend to get more benefit from experience than we do from “things”, it may be possible that from time to time we need to actually remove things from our lives versus adding things whether it be “stuff” or some of our “doing”. This is fairly non-intuitive but not uncommon.

And scarcity really adds to our desire to add in more things to our life versus removing things. As Blaze Pascal said, “All of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room.” We have to ask ourselves in those times in life whether it is really that we need more of something in our life or possibly, less. It is our natural propensity to want to fill the space in our lives.

The other thing to consider is that we can also focus on improving the quality of our current conditions in life. For example, a nice article about sleep on Lifehacker describes how we could actually get less sleep. Now, we’re not advocating for fewer hours of sleep but, the point here leads us to the conversation about what is essential in our lives. And if you really want to know more about sleep, check out this article from Sleep Maven. If you want to know more about essentialism, check out one of my favorite books, Essentialism. You can even make your own essentials list like I did.

So, if you were to remove one thing right now from  your life, what would it be?

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