Waiting for a bus, you’re reading the newspaper. There was a tragic accident where the driver became paralyzed. Horrified, you anxiously read the next article about a mechanic who just one the lottery. Your friend sitting next to you says, “I’ll bet you $100 that two years from now, the two of them will be equally happy.” Would you take the bet?
Most of us would and we’d be out $100. In a study done sometime ago, they interviewed a group of people who had both of these life changing experiences. There was no significant difference in happiness between these two groups. Turns out, we are pretty poor at knowing how something will make us feel in the future.
When my wife and I moved to India for several months, the first few weeks were challenging. India is very different from the small town in Colorado that we had left. Part of the challenge for me was knowing we were going to be there for three months and I had a hard time imaging feeling this way the whole time we were there. But after a few weeks, the cows in the middle of an urban street and the throngs of people started to become normal. A few more weeks past and we were enjoying it so much that we extended our stay. We even talked about living there for a year. It’s amazing how quickly we are able to adapt to very different situations.
Remembering that our current situation and feelings are not eternal can help us deal with them day by day. Paralyzed or winning the lottery plus two years means you’re likely to feel the same. Something important to remember when you’re struggling with a change. When presented with this thought, one of my friends said, “Yeah, but if I have to choose the path to getting to the same level of happiness. I’d rather win the lottery.”