Your Brain and Positive Emotions Conference tip #3: okay, there is the deeper-meaningful-sustaining-happiness, and then there’s short-term-sensual pleasure-happiness. We’re going to talk about the latter–the most transitory source of satisfaction: sensual pleasures. Visuals, audio, sensorial, smells, heavenly tastes~it turns out that if you repeatedly indulge these (such as listening to your favorite band, get a massage, dancing, eating your favorite meal, go hopping in the jacuzzi) too often, its appeal dies.
The bummer about doing stuff you love to often, is that our brains habituate rapidly to it, and won’t offer up dopamine anymore. Ever noticed how new things, new hobbies, new bikes, new foods bring on so much of the happies? And a month or 2 later, its sort of gone neutral, and then if you continue you can actually grow an aversion to it? I do this with desserts.
Has Habituation happened to you with a favorite food or hobby? Confounding! The Habituation Principle is something brain scientists want us to know about. John Preston, Psy.D, ABPP of Alliant International University in Sacramento lays out a plan to help counteract rapid habituation. He wants your Reward Circuits to keep pumping out the happy chemicals.
So here’s the plan:
find new hobbies, start new diets, new workout regimes, new friends, new foods, new classes, new favorite restaurants, etc. BUT, savor the experiences, avoid repeating very often, and focus on the anticipation instead of the actual experience! Wacky or what? Anticipation is hugely contributory to dopamine and serotonin’s ongoing production. I mean, dressing up for Halloween is as much or more fun than actually trick or treating, right? Well…
Anyway, have fun, but don’t make a habit of it. 😉