And she will rack up the tab if you don’t keep an eye on her.
Did you realise you’re already eight lessons in?
Good job. Give yourself a pat on the back!
Today I want to talk to you about habituation and novelty-seeking. Why?
Because the negativity bias isn’t the only mechanism your brain uses to keep you from experiencing gratitude.
There are at least three more: habituation, novelty-seeking and comparison (but we’ll leave that for another day).
Habituation is the process that desensitises you to things.
Products, events, people, or anything else that you’re constantly in contact with. Because those things feel safe, familiar and predictable.
Amidst all that, it’s easy to get excited and feel grateful about a new phone, car, or relationship.
Until they become an intrinsic part of your life and you hardly notice them any more.
That’s when your tendency to take stuff for granted comes in.
And once you get accustomed to the things you do have, you start seeing the things you don’t have. This holds true for possessions, jobs, experiences, events, and even people!
That’s when you start chasing the next thing.
Next promotion, next car, next relationship. Because you’ve become habituated to what you’ve already got.
And your brain is no help here – because that bish is a sucker for novelty!
New things carry within them the potential for a reward. This means that exploring new environments and things gives you a little dopamine hit.
Nothing like drugs to get you hooked, right?
And Mother Nature knows that.
So, she’s set your brain up in a way that, once something has become familiar, it stops having an associated reward and loses its potential.
“For this reason, only completely new objects activate the midbrain area and increase our levels of dopamine,” says UCL psychologist Emrah Düzel.
Your natural tendency is to get bored with what you have and yearn for what you don’t have.
Not exactly a recipe for gratitude, is it?
The solution is to retrain your brain to get better at focusing on and appreciating what you already have.
Like you’re doing in this course.
Time for another pat on the back for sticking with it!
- Name something you couldn’t live without.
- Who do you take for granted in your life?
- Describe a positive piece of news you heard recently.