Caught in the web of Covid-19 and my semester finals in the last few weeks, life seemed like the drop of a roller coaster which seemed never ending. If one was to look around it seemed that humanity was doomed to live a life of isolation and depression forever, which also stank of death of closed ones and the constant fear of one’s own death. It also seemed impossible to look for hope elsewhere because everybody around was struggling, trying not to choke on negative emotions which were slowly conquering their minds.
While studying for my Psychology, I came across a term, Hedonic Treadmill, it is a superpower we all have. Hedonic Treadmill or Hedonic adaptation is the tendency of people to return to a relatively stable level of happiness even after major traumatic or positive events. This concept seemed really interesting to me because I have seen myself and other people saying things like, “If I lose ___ my life will lose meaning and I would be depressed forever” or “If only I could get___ life would be perfect and I will live happily ever after.” I also remembered days like when my board results were out. People who scored well were robbed of their happiness merely after a week or two, and the people who scored low were relieved of anxiety and sadness after a month or two.
But, the Hedonic Treadmill does not always work. Sometimes we are stubborn and the moment we see our mood improving our ego flails its arms trying to save itself from drowning in our happiness. What do we do? Being good people, we rescue it. Post being saved, our ego throws in some wisdom, “You had told the world, more importantly yourself that you will never be happy again if you lose___” or “You said that you will not be happy if you don’t get___.” The result, we shame ourselves for the improvement in our mood and literally compel ourselves to feel down. Instead of using our energy to engage in activities we enjoy to lift our moods, we start picturing the worst possible scenario for our life ahead, and believe that we should and we will live the rest of our lives depressed and sad, as if that is a proof of our love for the person or thing we lost or want to get.
What is interesting is that our ego never jumps in when we are returning from an elated state. Further we listen to it readily as if we believe that we deserve to be in a negative state of mind because of circumstances which are often beyond our control, yet every time we are asked what do we want the most in our lives, we clap and hands and say ‘Happiness’, while we are the ones running away from it. Next time be a little devil and let ego drown, humor me by being a little more devilish and push its head down in the pool of joy and peace. Don’t worry it will not die, ego is generally immortal and often finds a way to creep back into your mind.
Lastly, there is much to rejoice about. What seems devastating now will seem like a life changing moment later because everything turns out to be perfect in the end, in the words of Matthew McConaughey “In time, yesterday’s red light leads us to a greenlight.” To enjoy the beauty of a complete picture on a puzzle the pieces need to be joined, which can hurt because the pieces are often tight and need a little force to fit together. Have faith that your life is a beautiful puzzle because it was designed and is being solved by the best, Him.