There was also agreement that one wonderful way to tame our tendency to always want more is to persuade ourselves to want the things we already have.
“He robs present ills of their power who has perceived their coming beforehand.”1
We humans are unhappy in large part because we are insatiable; after working hard to get what we want, we routinely lose interest in the object of our desire. Rather than feeling satisfied, we feel a bit bored, and in response to this boredom, we go on to form new, even grander desires. The psychologists Shane Frederick and George Loewenstein have studied this phenomenon and given it a name: hedonic adaptation.
One key to happiness, then, is to forestall the adaptation process: We need to take steps to prevent ourselves from taking for granted, once we get them, the things we worked so hard to get.