Happiness Secret #5

Happiness Secret #5

Do something novel.

They say variety is the spice of life, and they’re right… except when they’re wrong. Let’s explore the concept of variety a little more and how it relates to our happiness.

The human mind likes things to be comforting and predictable. But the process of habituation (diminished phycological response to frequently repeated stimuli) means that the more we do the same things over and over, even if they are things we really enjoy, the less happiness and excitement they will elicit.

The solution to achieve maximum happiness from life’s little pleasures is to highlight them with either time or variety (both are not necessary). The point is to provide contrast so that the things that make you happy stand out and don’t seem so routine.

Time: If enough time has passed since an event occurred, it will seem novel again and pique your maximum mental response to create happiness. You’re the only judge of how much time is enough time. For instance, if you only occasionally go out to eat or to a favorite restaurant, you’ll gain more happiness from ordering your favorite food each time than by ordering less preferred foods just for variety.

Variety: When not much time has passed between events, you’ll need some variety to spice things up. For instance, if you’re going out to eat for lunch every day, you’ll probably want to vary the location or the menu item. Otherwise, soon enough your favorite food will start to seem rather blah.

You can add more excitement into you daily life (and the lives of others) by looking for little novel things to spice things up and keep each day from becoming too routine. Things as simple as getting an unexpected note from a spouse or friend, being sent a particularly funny or impressive picture, or seeing something out of the ordinary on your drive to work, or switching up the soap for a new scent can go a long way toward boosting your mood. The key is to notice and enjoy these novel little occurrences.

On the other hand, too much variety and novel surprises can become stressful so be mindful of that, especially if you are looking to surprise other people.

Check out our list of ideas for injecting some novelty into your life.

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