How can I never be unhappy?

Never enough: How the pursuit of happiness makes us unhappy

The managing director is lavishly renovating his office, the department head is negotiating a new company car and the colleague is working overtime to finance his swimming pool until the summer. What these things have in common is that they make their buyers happy - at least in the short term. Because the office furniture will be out again in a few years, the company car model from the day before yesterday and the maintenance of the pool mainly eats up time and money.

"If you always strive for more, you will never get there."

The “hedonistic treadmill” is the tendency to quickly fall back to normal after reaching an increased level of happiness. The result: When trying to catch as many happy moments as possible, life falls by the wayside. “If I constantly strive for more, at some point I will stop and never get there. Even if I have the most beautiful or the best version of something, at some point there will be something that is better or more beautiful, ”explains Christa Schirl. This also happens apart from material things. “For example, people can no longer celebrate their successes because they immediately strive for more. This is how you get into a cycle that is difficult to get out of, ”says the psychologist.

While it is often material things that one longs for in private life, at work they are status symbols or milestones that others have already achieved: Another new branch, a new factory hall, the latest model in the company car, the high bonus.

Step into the treadmill ...

“We get into this situation because we compare ourselves with others,” says Schirl. “My house has a whirlpool, the neighbor gets a swimming pond. I want that too, so I can do it. Then the neighbor buys a sauna - I want that too. I have to earn money for that, but during this time I can't even enjoy the whirlpool and swimming pond - and so the spiral keeps turning, ”explains the psychologist.

But comparing oneself is not always bad. As long as the comparison with others and the goal setting are made consciously, you don't run the risk of getting caught in the treadmill.

... and getting out of the hamster wheel

The exit from the hedonistic treadmill does not succeed overnight, but it is manageable. The following questions help:

  • What do i own? What have I already achieved professionally?
  • How much life energy and time do I put into what I have?
  • A look at material things: Do I use everything I have?
  • What price am I willing to pay if I want to achieve a certain thing?
  • What do I want because someone else has it too? Do I want to outdo someone?
  • Is the path I'm going still up to date? Changes of direction are completely legitimate!

According to Schirl, a cardinal mistake that repeatedly sends us back to the treadmill is the wrong perspective: “Never look back, always live in the here and now. In psychology we speak of a 'hindsight mistake': Everything used to be easier. I was much better at my old job - It wasn't like that, it was just different. Constantly looking back at what you once had makes you dissatisfied. Life takes place in the here and now. "

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