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What Carrots Are You Chasing, and Are They Worth the Sacrifice?

“Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I promise this essay isn’t an attempt to convince you that you’re living inside The Matrix. (Okay, maybe it is a bit.)

But do you ever find that days, weeks, or even months have passed that you didn’t for? I describe this odd sensation as feeling like you’re going through the motions like Bill Murray trapped in Groundhog Day.

Every day bleeds into the next because you’re future-focused, and what you’re doing right now only feels valuable insofar as it’s laying the groundwork for something else; the next stage of your career, the renovation that means the house is “done,” a number in the bank account that means you’ll never have to worry about money again.

I think it’s fair to say we both know this is total BS. We’ve climbed enough mountains in our lifetime to know that as soon as we get what we want, we’re already planning what’s next.

The problem is not with the aim or the goal but with the belief that we can cross a finish line that will magically make these uncomfortable feelings disappear. In psychology, they call this the hedonic treadmill.

You know that promotion that would ?

You know that new kitchen you obsess over because it would make life much better?

You know that extra cash that would mean all of life’s money troubles would disappear?

Will they provide everlasting happiness?

Doubtful.

We can blame this on the hedonic treadmill.

It’s in our human nature to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

Put another way: No matter what we do, buy, or hope will change our life permanently, it’s

happiness life feelings

Bill Murray Eleanor Roosevelt I (I)

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