We Get Used To What We Have
The key to mastering splurges is to first understand human nature. We are subject to a pesky psychological phenomenon called adaptation: essentially, we get used to what we have. This is commonly referred to as thehedonic treadmill: the concept that even if we acquire better circumstances—more money, a bigger house—we will quickly return to the level of happiness we had prior to these acquisitions, and will require more to get that same surge of satisfaction again. This explains why study after study shows that more money does not equate with more happiness.
Splurges Make Us Happy
It’s not worth trying to beat adaptation—we can try to stall or fight it, but in the end we always lose, according to a study by researchers Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, Elizabeth Dunn of the University Of British Columbia, and Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. This is why you may try to stay excited about your new job, iPad, or vacation as long as you possibly can, but eventually the sheen will wear off. And you will need a raise, a new model, or a better trip to get you feeling excited again.
Adaptation isn’t anything to feel badly about—it’s human, and apparently unavoidable. The best bet is to, well, adapt to adaptation. We should accept it as a part of our reality, and in fact, we can capitalize on the fact that we can give our own happiness a boost with periodic indulgences.
In fact, these spurts of delight are what keep us going through life’s less stimulating plateaus (like working and, um, sticking to a budget).
Splurge Small – And Frequently
Since we “adapt” to pleasure so quickly, smaller, more frequent splurges are better investments. Temporal breaks allow us to readjust, and experience a jolt of delight again.
Spreading out our joyful treats not only allows us to experience pleasure more often (who can say no to that?), it can actually save us money. This is because our pleasure doesn’t increase in exact proportion to the size of the splurge.
Adaptation. The first point of this article hit home for me… I bought my first Chanel purse on March 1st. Not even one month had passed before I started browsing shopping sites and dreaming about my next Chanel.
Its funny how a shopping high wears off so quickly! And for such a substantial purchase the respite is similar compared to a small one! Then its on to the next new shiny thing….
Just something to think about.