I’m here to tell you that even the most exciting life can become routine. It’s a bit like the concept of the hedonic treadmill (where while a person gains more wealth, his or her expectations also rise, offering no overall gain in happiness). But it can happen even when you aren’t wealthy.
In a recent conversation with a friend–a professional floatplane pilot–she told me that even during her “routine” flights to Washington State’s beautiful San Juan Islands, she has to remind herself to look around, to notice the Olympic Mountains shimmering in the distance, to tip the wings just enough to let her passengers see the orca whales in the water below. Sometimes it’s their appreciation that offers the reminder.
I know what she means.
My husband flies our floatplane to our fishing cabin in Canada. Last time we flew up there, his mother joined us. At one point, she looked at me, her eyes round as Canadian “twoonies”, and said, “Have you ever seen a place more beautiful than this? I mean, have you?”
She was serious.
And I had to try not to shrug. The three hour flight had almost become routine to me. Which, I realize, is a problem.
We all do it. Even the most coveted, sought-after material items lose their appeal after a time. Same goes for a lifestyle. Or a new car. Once you drive that fabulous new Mercedes off the lot, it can lose its wow-factor even faster than its new car smell. Because it becomes routine. It’s the hedonic treadmill. Things don’t make us happy. At least not for very long.
The high we get from experiences, on the other hand, are supposed to last. But what if your job is flying floatplanes or controlling avalanches with explosives? Or what if you just have a job that’s paying the mortgage? That alone is a coveted possession these days.
But the satisfaction doesn’t last. No matter how awesome the job, or the life, or the family, or the whatever, when you do it every day, it becomes routine.
So how do we avoid this? Must we amp it up ever higher, trying newer, more exciting escapades at every turn? Like the Mercedes driver, must we constantly refill our quota just to stay in the same place? Should we accumulate sports and vacations like others do coins? I don’t think so.
The answer is to keep it awesome. And how do you do this? How do you bring the awesome back?
One way: gratitude.
Everyday show some gratitude. Tell others you’re grateful for their presence in your life. Remind yourself what you are grateful for. Declare it to the world. By reminding ourselves about what we have, we delay, perchance even avoid, the dreaded routine.
Keep it awesome.