Eventually taking things for granted seems like an inevitable part of human nature. We’ve all done it, we all do it, and we’ll all probably do it again sometime in the near future. You know how you were all excited to get that brand new piano you’d been eyeing for a while, only to quickly tire of it in just a few months? Or perhaps you started taking your wonderful significant other for granted after 2+ years together. Maybe you no longer feel fortunate to have your job and the associated income it provides, or you’ve grown lethargic towards the delicious pancakes your roommate makes every Sunday morning for breakfast. Suffice it to say that I think almost all of us have experienced the emotion of boredom in one form or the other, at some point in our lives.
Like many other emotions, boredom has a positive side and a negative side. On the positive side, boredom can motivate us to constantly seek out the new which can have the knock on effect of helping each of us develop broader perspectives, new ways of thinking, new technologies, and other related things of that nature that generally drive humanity forward. On the negative flip side however, the emotion of boredom may very well be one of the chief emotional blocks that keeps us from attaining mastery in our chosen fields of endeavor. Truth be told, the only real obstacle between our current capabilities and mastery of each of our chosen fields is often just time assuming you don’t live in some war torn part of the globe. That being said, If we get bored of whatever we are trying to master somewhere along the journey for whatever reason, we’ll stop well short of attaining mastery.
To be fair, it’s really not your fault if you have an inclination towards boredom because most of us do. I think one of the major reasons for this very human inclination towards boredom is our supreme adaptability as human beings. From day to day experience, you’ve probably noticed that your mind tends to respond more to changes around you than it does to steady state conditions. As a practical example, if your salary goes up significantly due to a promotion, you will probably really notice the effect of this during the first few months. As time passes however, you may adapt to that new condition in your life and eventually subtly take it for granted. This human tendency is so prevalent that there is an official name for it – hedonic adaptation.
If we are all prone to hedonic adaptation, how then do we work to ensure we don’t take the important stuff in our lives for granted because of it. The first step here is awareness… the simple act of just acknowledging that we all have this tendency and being alert to it is of great fundamental importance to making sure we don’t fall prey to it as often. Also, actively practicing gratitude for everything we have no matter how small is key to combating this human tendency. Did you wake up today? Do your eyes still work? Do your hands still work? Can you still hear and smell things? Can your mind still make sense of our four dimensional reality? If you answered yes to any one of those things, you should know that none of them is a divine right of yours or mine… they are privileges to be thankful for and used wisely.
In conclusion folks, hedonic adaptation is part of our base human nature and is a big reason why things eventually bore us. It is often the truth that many of us take the things in our life for granted right up until we lose them and the associated joy/comfort they may have brought us in the past. Although it is natural to take things for granted, doing that can have a bad effect on the things we value most… our relationships, our health, and our well being to name a few. I don’t know of any other method to combat this human tendency than the conscious practice of gratitude each and every day. From all of us here at chubaoyolu.org, please take care of yourselves and each other.
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.