You knew I wouldn’t get to the end of my 22 in 22 without talking about the Hedonic Treadmill, didn’t you? Here are the last four on my list of 22 in 22:
#19: Get off the Hedonic Treadmill
The discovery, late in December, that there is an actual psychological phenomenon akin to what I call the Cycle of the Imperfect Life, was a gamechanger. While prior to discovering it, I had an inkling that I wasn’t the only person who experienced this endless cycle of wanting, scheming, obtaining, regretting and wanting, I didn’t have any proof other than the actions of my own small children.
While the idea of the Hedonic Treadmill doesn’t describe it in terms of a cycle, it does elaborate the phenomenon in detail, which is helpful to simply realize that I am not alone.
At the end of last summer and into the fall, I was being really, really hard on myself about what I was calling, “wallowing”, that is the phase between wanting and scheming. It was the phase in which the stimuli of things that I wanted were so strong, that on any given day, I made myself miserable for the wanting.
These were things that were nearly impossible to actually start scheming for–things that were so outrageous and, were I to be very honest, not things that my deepest heart truly wanted. They were little sugarcoated candies. Because I was able to be very lucid about this–and lucidity is a virtue!–these little wants never made it to the scheming phase.
But I want to get off the treadmill. I want to experience a life free from all-consuming desires which distract me from what I am supposed to be doing. I’m not going to go so far as to say I “want to stop wanting”, but I do to stop being distracted by my wanting.
Digging into the literature about the Hedonic Treadmill is going to help.
#20: Practice Mindfulness
This idea is actually unrelated to the mindfulness practice that is talked about in the Hedonic Treadmill literature, and different from what I talked about with mindfulness in regards to food. This particular mindfulness practice I want to develop has to do with my family and my experience of being a wife and a mother.
I have discovered that it is very, very, very easy to take one conflict and let it represent the whole of the day. I have discovered that this kind of thing has a snowball effect: if I do this–if I talk about my experience of the day being bad–then my indulgent husband tends, on his end, to see things with that veil of darkness and conflict around his experience with the scalawags.
Although I cannot entirely undo this tendency for both of us, one thing I can do is to notice…not just notice, but say aloud when something is going well. When we are having a good moment.
Case in point, when my eldest asked me to have hot chocolate under a blanket on his couch with him last week, I made a point to say to him, “You know what? This is one of the best moments I’ve enjoyed in a long time.”
Making it a point to say it out loud means that I am reinforcing, deepening, strengthening, widening the mental pathways in my mind to see my everyday, boring parenting life as a source of joy.
This is the kind of mindfulness I want to be practicing in 2022
#21: Do my Ideal Life Exercise Every Day
There is no surprise here. This is a discipline: each day, taking those few minutes to look at what is working and what isn’t working in relationship to my Ideal Life.
It has been really exciting to get feedback on the podcast from people I know and people I don’t know in regards to their Ideal Life Exercise. We won’t be getting into the daily questions part of the Ideal Life Exercise until Episode 6, but I really believe that this is a practical discipline that can bring so much clarity to us when we have lost our way.
So…to keep myself on the right path, I definitely want to continue this exercise.
#22 Learn something fascinating about psychology every week
This shouldn’t be that hard. There is a lot of fascinating stuff to learn. There are hundreds of themes that interest me. I want to make a list of those random “why do we do what we do” questions that pass through my head all the time, and in 2022, I want to seek out some answers.
There we have it!
All right. As they say in French, “Il ne reste plus qu’à faire!” (The only thing left now is to do!)
As for you, what I want you to do right now is go drink some water. Oh! And get caught up on the podcast. Episode 4: McGyvering KonMari drops tomorrow.