Dr. W's Space Travels
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2021-07-29 20:59:28 (UTC)

Space Cadet Moonwalks on the Hedonic Treadmill

Dr. Wood LVI

This was a really good day! Can’t say there’s a particular reason for it, but it just felt like it went well. I did some grocery shopping today and had a blast. I’m the kind of person that gets excited over getting groceries. I shop every three weeks (used to be once a week until the pandemic hit – now the routine’s just kinda grown on me), so I consider it to be a treat to go. I mean, getting to spend $160 on a culinary shopping spree… how could that possibly be a drag? I get to walk into a palace of yum and take home anything that I want. Greek yogurt, ground beef, tomato paste, ice cream bars, crackers, seltzer water, almondmilk… it’s just so joyful! Today I made a conscious effort to visibly smile, and I think it just made me enjoy the experience even more. I paid more attention to my senses as well. Specifically, there’s something about the smells of a grocery store that soothes the fudge outta me. Like when I walk through the bread aisle, or the produce section. And when I pick out a frozen meal, that scent of cold packaging or whatever brings me back to the days of being in elementary school, when I would go to the store with my dad and brother and pick out a Kids Cuisine meal. Oh my word that was always the highlight of those grocery store trips! Just being presented with the wide variety of Kids Cuisines to choose from… chicken nuggets? Pizza? Macaroni and cheese? It was the RADDEST! And I can’t ever forget KC, the penguin mascot, whom I thought was such a cool dude. I mean, for endorsing all those childhood-molding meals, he gets more than a few gold stars. So yeah, that nostalgia hit me pretty hard today. And then there was a fudge load of discounted cereal that I bought – that was quite the treasure. And to conclude it all, I got to see my cabinets all fully stocked, waiting for me to raid them for another three weeks.

I watched some more Youtube videos today at work. Work’s definitely starting to get busy, but I’m able to watch some stuff with relative ease nonetheless. I watched some stuff about the psychology behind mobile games, as inspired by some mobile games that DashieGames played and recorded. While he is insanely entertaining and could make absolutely anything hilarious, some of those games he played were… let’s just say, “yeesh”. Also, it was very evident how most of those games were set up to get the player addicted… which is kind of ironic in this case considering how dissatisfied Dashie was with them (and understandably so). But I’d thought this before – the only apps I use regularly that have ads are Duolingo and Chess with Friends, neither of which have the addictive element. Some of those ads, though, are for games that initially look appealing to me. Like they look like they could provide fun under the guise of a sense of accomplishment. It led me to watch a Game Theory video, where MatPat talked about the mechanics behind mobile games and how they get people so hooked onto them. It was really fascinating, and MatPat’s such an engaging and knowledgeable presenter. He talked about how these mobile games inundate the player with rewards, collectibles and unlockables, and they space out the enjoyment through ads and cooldown periods, so that the players’ brains aren’t waterlogged with dopamine, therefore keeping them hooked. It actually made me feel kind of disgusted by mobiles games, to be honest. I never got all that into them (played Candy Crush like once in my life, and would pick a Nintendo game over it any day of the Gregorian calendar), but I could see how those with more addictive personalities could fall victim to such vices. It’s pretty brazen of me to call out people with such mindsets, and to call mobile games “vices”, but this is what I was feeling after looking into this stuff. I really don’t feel strongly about anything in general (I usually aim for ambivalence or try to understand both sides), but for some reason this particularly hit differently.

That all spurred me to watch some videos about the hedonic treadmill (which was something MatPat briefly alluded to in his video). I learned how the hedonic treadmill, or hedonic adaptation, was a metaphor for how people have a tendency towards a “happiness equilibrium”. So like, if they were to have something majorly good happen to them (like winning the lotto), things would be swell for a bit… and then they’d kinda get used to their lifestyle and their happiness would be the same as (or possibly even lower than) before. Same goes for people with something terrible happening, like being paralyzed. Some of the videos then went on to talk about what we can do to step off the hedonic treadmill. One thing that stuck with me was doing gratitude exercises, like listing things one is grateful for at the end of the day. I think this whole explanation was just to somehow justify me really taking in the moments at the grocery store today. Not that I need to “justify” it… maybe “give reason to” would be a more fitting term. I really do wanna step off the hedonic treadmill, and experience heightened happiness more often, simply with what I already have. Or like, jump across multiple treadmills, or walk backwards on it or something, I dunno. I think I’ve been getting gradually better at appreciating the world of my own living space, with all the shrines and stuff, and the many cool parts of my daily routine. There’s a lot that I could appreciate more though and I would like to do that :) Gonna leave it at that for now – it’s a bit rushed but I do have another Discord call with my friend today. Oh wow – the weekend is already here again. Fudge. That’s awesome.

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