Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

See Your Life Better

Per Tali Sharot and Cass R. Sunstein in Time “Your Life Is Better Than You Think”.

“The undeniable popularity of self-help books, wellness podcasts, and happiness workshops reflects the constant human desire to make life better. But could it be that many of our lives are already better than we recognize?

While we may have a loving family, a good place to live, and a decent job, we often fail to notice those things. It’s not because we are ungrateful or stupid. It’s because of a basic feature of our brain, known as habituation.

Habituation is the tendency of neurons to fire less and less in response to things that are constant. You enter a room filled with roses and after a short while, you cannot detect their scent any longer. And just as you get used to the smell of fresh flowers, you also get used to a loving relationship, to a promotion, to a nice home, to a dazzling work of art.

Like the front page of a daily newspaper, your brain cares about what recently changed, not about what remained the same. And so, what once took your breath away becomes part of life’s furniture. You habituate to it—you fail to notice and respond to elements of your life which you previously found enchanting.

….A delicate balance must be struck here. On the one hand, without habituation (and dare we say some boredom, restlessness, and greed), we might have remained mere cave dwellers. But on the other hand, habituation can lead us to be unsatisfied, bored, restless, and greedy. Perhaps then, rather than focusing completely on how to better our life we need to also learn how to see our life better—to notice the great things we have habituated to a little bit more. “

This is a great reminder that “Your life is better than you think”. Although it is good to strive to be better, it is also important to take note of your everyday “routine life” and be appreciative of things you take for granted….be it your family, a home, a career, an amazing view, etc.