Fear of change creates a comfort trap

Studies have shown that people who become paraplegics after an accident are only slightly less happy a year later than they were before the accident. By the same token, big lotto winners are back to their previous happiness level within a year. When something big happens, good or bad, people soon become accustomed to it. Yet we often act as though we can’t face the prospect of change.

Think of all the people in history, and all who are living now. Such a huge disparity in living circumstances. We can’t imagine living without running water or electricity, yet most people on this earth have lived that way. Nevertheless, we are filled with horror at the thought of personally having to go without our wide screen TV, or our morning coffee or any of a host of luxuries we enjoy every day.

We seem to be wired to hold on to what have, to the point that we can be terrified of losing it.

This fear of losing our financial security or material possessions can keep us trapped in demoralising situations. Probably more people stay in unsatisfying jobs and relationships than take the chance to be free, if it means a risk of financial loss.

Yet those who do take that chance discover two things. First, you can get used to having less money and be just as happy as before. And second, it’s the inner changes that you make – the ones that change how you feel about yourself and your place in the world – that create lasting change in your happiness level.

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