By: Madeleine Ortiz
Remember first getting your driver’s license? You likely felt pretty nervous every time you sat behind the wheel of the car. You would double check your seat belt and triple check your mirrors. Everything on the road felt new and maybe even a little bit scary. Now? You’re an old pro at driving. You can merge onto highways with ease and whip into parking spots in one fell swoop. It’s all second nature.
And driving probably isn’t the only time this pattern has played out in your life. Perhaps you switched jobs and started making a little less money. You weren’t sure you would survive the decrease in pay, but after a while living on the new salary felt pretty normal. Parents undoubtedly felt overwhelmed the first days with their newborns, but eventually settled into their roles as mom or dad.
People have an incredible ability to “get used to it,” and it’s not just imagination… it’s science. Hedonic adaptation is the tendency of humans to quickly return the a general level of “normalcy” and “stability” despite major changes in their lives. And it doesn’t matter if the changes are viewed by the person as positive or negative.
A recent Facebook survey asked individuals to name something they thought they could never get used to, but is now routine, and they eagerly offered examples. Many of the responses that were given had to do with changes in health habits. One person mentioned “waking up early enough to work out at 5:30 am” and another talked about “eating vegetables every day.” This is GREAT news when it comes to changing our habits… it means that things you might think you could never get used to can become second nature if you put them into practice for a couple of weeks.
So take advantage of hedonic adaptation to start some new wellness habits. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day, not eating dessert every night, walking thirty minutes, or replacing soda with soda water might sound impossible now, but before you know it will be as instinctive as putting your car in drive.
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