Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Desire
Gretchen Craft Rubin is the best-selling author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Her latest book is titled Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.
She has an enormous readership, both in print and online, and her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, in more than thirty languages. On her weekly podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft. Rubin started her career in law and was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.
Question: How can we break the cycle of wanting something else whenever we get something we want?\r\n
Gretchen Rubin: There’s something called the “arrival fallacy.” And the arrival fallacy is the belief that, if only I could get that job, then I would be happy. Once I take that vacation, then I will be happy. And usually when you reach that destination, it doesn’t bring this big bang of happiness that you expect. But I do think that there is something about happiness where you feel like you’re always reaching out for it. And one of the positive ways to address this is what I call an atmosphere of growth. People feel happier when they feel like they’re progressing. When they feel like something in their life is growing or getting better. One of the ways you see this is, people have a strong preference to get raises, and in fact, studies show that they will choose to make less money overall in order to be paid in a structure where they get paid more and more over time rather than get paid less over time, even if they would make more money – if they took that second route, which doesn’t make sense from an economic standpoint, but it makes a lot of sense if you understand that people want this atmosphere of growth in their life. But it doesn’t only have to be money. It could be something like learning to do something new, learning French, learning Photoshop, making something better, cleaning out your garage. Fixing things that don’t work, teaching somebody something, helping your child learn is one of the thrills of being a parent; training your dog, helping something grow, planting a garden, gaining new skills. Anything like this where you feel this atmosphere of growth. It’s a wonderful engine of happiness and it something that’s available to people even when maybe they feel like other parts of their lives are out of control, or aren’t working, or of they can find someplace in their life where something is getting better, where they feel like something is improving, in some way they are growing and it’s going to help them feel happier.
Recorded on February 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
Whenever we get something we want, we seem to want something else. How can we escape the loop and learn to be content?
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.