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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

I Got What I Wanted. Why Am I So Unhappy?

Photo credit Giuseppe Milo | Creative Commons

So you just got that raise you've been working toward, and a new project starts tomorrow, and you're making great money, but — you don't really like the work. You're moving up, but you're not happy. It might be time to re-evaluate your situation, and maybe get on a different proverbial treadmill.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about the concept of The Hedonic Treadmill, and what we can do to set ourselves up for a happier life.

A lot of times it's easier to imagine long-term goals than it is to understand the steps that it will take to achieve them. We can deceive ourselves into thinking that as long as we lose ten pounds, or get a raise, or tile the bathroom, we will be happy. But if the process is excruciating, chances are achieving the goal is not going to make a difference in your overall well-being.

As Markman points out: 

"Working to achieve something can be great, as long as we enjoy the process of working to achieve something."

The more process-focused, rather than goal-oriented, you are in life, the easier it is to enjoy the things that you're doing.

Whether it's at work, in a relationship, or even if you're just looking forward to a new season of Orange Is The New Black, expecting things to continuously get better, rather than just enjoying the moments, can be disappointing. Anniversaries are a good time to evaluate whether you're enjoying the journey. 

"In truth, there are a lot of paths that will allow you to succeed, and also enjoy the process," Markman says.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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