I was reading a Mr. Money Mustache post, doing my best to – at least – mentally imitate the man and the idea of Hedonic Adaptation intersected with some other thoughts I had just been having.
This year has been one of making more goals than ever before and if not succeeding in all of them, at least learning something from each experience. Hedonic Adaptation is the ” tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” Goals, changes, and a blog, this all calls for a summary of 2013.
Cancelling our Satellite Television service. In March we made our final payment to DirecTV and cancelled our television package. Before doing so we had a plan for how we were going to replace it. We found out that Hulu’s free offerings included The Colbert Report and along with Netflix and our public library we’ve had ample television shows and movies to watch. My wife found that the video podcast of The Nightly News with Brian Williams gets published by nine o’clock – when we finally have time to watch it anyway and after the real news we stream Colbert. So far we’ve saved about $130 which will grow to almost $300 by the end of the year. It’s incredible to think that our entire Christmas gift shopping might be covered by the savings of this one change, a change we don’t even notice anymore. We’ve adapted.
Not buying clothing or books. I’ve faltered a bit on this one. I did buy a pair of shorts and have purchased Choose Yourself and Writing Tools but my spending on clothes and books is a fraction of previous year’s levels. More powerfully, the urge to buy is gone. Last month I won a $25 gift card to a running shop and left with just socks. In the past I would be drooling over a fleece or long sleeve top, but now I just didn’t care. Finding new books has also been surprisingly rewarding because I’ve found some unexpected gems. Both Born to Run and Bootstrapper were random browsings of our public library and both were wonderful. We’ve adapted.
Not wasting food. In May I tried – and failed – to waste zero food. Even though this wasn’t an absolute success it has carved my thinking to view food differently. There is no meal I don’t eat because of what time of day it is and some leftovers have been surprisingly good for breakfast, and quick too.
I’ve mostly stopped drinking alcohol. I looked at our grocery bill one day and was surprised to see that alcohol was a huge individual expense in the list of items and decided to stop buying it. I’ve adapted.
Writing and reading more. This has been tough too and the quantity comes in waves. This is what 68 days of writing looks like. There are some days when I went crazy writing at least 2000 words and somedays I didn’t write anything. I chalk this up to having kids who either keep me up late or get up early and both those affect what happens between six and eight in the morning when I do most of my writing.
I don’t plot reading because it’s not automated like this (though it might not be too much work) but the amounts are probably similar.
But am I happy?
I think so. Happiness is hard to judge. Time, money, the gas in my car are easy to judge. Happiness is harder because people like to think of themselves as happy – and I do too. Yes, I’m happy even though we don’t have sixty television channels, a growing bookshelf, or a seasonally fashionable wardrobe. It’s focusing on the things I do have that make me happy. I’ve adapted to see those better.