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The Hedonic Treadmill
My friend Adam ran a marathon last year. All 26.2 grueling miles. Yet the very next day, he said, "I should've run faster."
Does that strike a chord?
It's the Hedonic Treadmill at work. Achieve. Adapt. Desire more.
Everywhere we look, it's present. That thrill from a new gadget? Fades swiftly. The high from a business milestone? Recedes just as quick.
Oscar Wilde astutely observed, "There are two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."
Our brain, an intricate machine, is behind this. Evolution molded us for survival, not for continuous contentment. For our ancestors, pausing meant risk, while perpetual ambition meant survival.
Every time we hit a goal, dopamine showers our brain. A fleeting rush of pleasure. And like all rushes, it doesn't linger.
Einstein's words resonate deeply: "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
Without realizing, he was shedding light on a deep neurological principle.
Our "happiness baseline" is always in flux. It wavers with each win and loss. Your first significant business success? The rush of it? Now, it's just routine.
This is neural adaptation at play. The brain's relentless quest for a middle ground.
Within the entrepreneurial world, this cycle magnifies. Crack a revenue goal? A loftier one awaits. Net a dream client? There's always a bigger one.
But here's an unconventional truth: it's not the milestones feeding this unyielding thirst. It's the relentless pursuit. It's the in-built urge our brains have for more.
Yet, there's a twist.
The most profound joy? It's not in the medal, but in the journey.
Consider Apple's trajectory. They weren’t just about product drop-offs. Their heart was in the journey — design, iteration, improvement.
Achieving milestones? Sure, they give a momentary adrenaline kick. But what truly lasts? The pursuit. The path itself.
So, when etching out your next goal, delve deeper:
Is this merely a signpost? Or the final destination?
Signposts guide us. Destinations? They're endpoints.
By leaning into practices like gratitude and reflection, we can ground our happiness, offering a respite from the treadmill.
The entrepreneur's path? It's not about darting towards an array of finish lines. It's relishing the marathon and valuing every pace.
Takeaway: Our brains are constructed for ceaseless chase, but through introspection and valuing the journey, entrepreneurs can tap into enduring contentment.