April 29

“Nothing really pleasant or unpleasant subsists naturally, but all things become so through our understanding.” – Epictetus

There is an actual psychological phenomenon to explain the quote above. It’s called the hedonic treadmill or hedonic adaptation, it is our tendency to return to a relatively stable state of contentment regardless of changes in our situation. No matter how good or how bad it gets for us, we will normalize the change and return to our previous level of contentment. And that is not necessarily a bad thing.

If we work towards achieving contentment with our current position in life, this does more for us than just take away the risk of trying new things or reaching for new goals – if we are content where with our current situation, failing at new things and having to stay where we are is not nearly as frightening. Being content where we are in life fortifies us against the external things life is going to throw at us, good and bad.

By recognizing our current level of contentment and holding onto the understanding that many of the things that life throws at us are outside of our control, we can ignore the blips of ups and downs we might otherwise experience before the hedonic treadmill pulls us back to baseline.

We can work on our emotional discipline instead.

virtus fortis vocat

 

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