Why Simplicity Makes Us Happiest

It’s “cheap”

I ride my motorcycle year-round. I’ve ridden in triple digits — above 100 degrees, when sweat gathers across your lower back and any stop longer than a moment compels you to unzip your black leather jacket and pull it off your shoulders, your bare sternum rising and falling in the sun.

I’ve also ridden in single digits —have taken the bike out on days hovering between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit — when it is, as they say, “too cold to snow,” a biker-blessing in disguise, because it leaves the streets bone dry.

Today was one of the first “warm” days in a while — got all the way up to 50s! — and after riding in 10s and 20s and 30s for weeks, my ride home was awesome, simple bliss.

I often personify my bikes. Today he was this:

A pure joy to ride. The sort of joy people don’t — simply can’t — fully appreciate when they only ride in “perfect” weather.

By now most of us have heard of the hedonistic treadmill, and most of us understand and believe it. The problem is, most of us also forget.

I’m not here to tell you about the ways we acclimate to the joys in life; the way two people, a recent lottery winner and a recent paraplegic, will both report the exact same level of happiness they had before, a year after either event.

We both read these things, and maybe we believe them or maybe we don’t, but regardless: we all forget that it applies to us, and how.

If you want to be happier, don’t chase hedonism. Rather, endure. Eat simply, live cheaply, drive a simple car. Endure weather conditions.

Because you will get the same joy from even slight increases that others have to increasingly pursue. And each time you indulge, drop back to zero; don’t chase; don’t acclimate; don’t set a new standard. That way, you’ll always have that easy card in your back pocket; those simple, everyday pleasures will always have the same effect that others have to chase.

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