How novelty can make us a little bit happier, for a little bit of time
The Joy of (Anything) New
Use novelty to your advantage by making small adjustments to your routine. The simple fact that it is new will give us a quick jolt of pleasure.
This principle is part of why traveling is so fun for a short period of time—even when we go camping or live in uncomfortable conditions temporarily, we tend to be happier. Everything is new and we are more apt to appreciate the small things.
To see this principle in action, think of something you are going to do today that you do every single day, and now think of a way you can do this just a little bit differently.
Using novelty this way is like drinking caffeine: it can help give us a burst of happiness, but we if we start to rely on it the effects will diminish over time. A good example is travel, for most people traveling becomes cumbersome if it happens too often.
Neutralize The Downside of Novelty
To counteract this effect, you can think of small changes that work in the direction of long-term holistic health.
For example, if you want to start exercising more, make the small change to invite a co-worker to take a walk during lunch. Turn this into a habit over a few weeks and then make another small change: invite them to go on a run during lunch.
Or if you want to be more positive, ask a friend for permission to brag about everything you are proud of for just five minutes. Ask them to celebrate your successes, and give them the same courtesy. Then if you are ever down about yourself, you can call that friend and get them to pump you up.
More Bang for Your Change
For extra credit, try making a small change in each of these four areas:
Your schedule / systems.
If you normally complain about work, try talking about what’s good about work instead. Try keeping a gratitude journal.
If you normally watch TV from 7-8p on Mondays, try watching the sunset with a friend instead. If you normally play soccer, try tennis.
If you normally spend time with friends on a Friday night, try staying in and doing something creative by yourself instead. Or if you normally stay in on weeknights, invite a friend to join you in whatever your normal activity is, even if it is reading a book.
(schedule / systems)
If you normally get up at 8am, try getting up at 6am. Or try sleeping in. If you normally shop at the grocery store, go to a farmer’s market instead.