We've been talking about how we're bad at affective forecasting. We've been talking about how we hedonically adapt over time. You might be asking the question, how do I deal with that? How do I predict better? How can I shut off hedonic adaptation? Sadly, we cannot shut off these processes. They are just features of our mind, but we can figure out better ways to deal with them. That's what we're going to talk about now. How can we deal with our hedonic adaptation and affectively forecast better? That means we finally get to the thing I was promising you before. We get to have our psych pro tips, we think about how to put this into practice. Fireworks, it's all very exciting. Psych pro tip number one is that if you really want to take hedonic adaptation seriously, it suggests that when you're thinking about how you can buy things to be happier, you should focus on buying experiences, not material goods. What do I mean by that? Well, we talked about the fact that if you buy some material good, like a wonderful car, you're just going to get used to it over time. Today's car is going to be tomorrow's boring car that's in your garage. That's true again for everything, whether it's new shoes that you buy or a new video game or whatever you're just going to get used to it. But that is what we get used to when it comes to a material good. It's this physical thing that's going to stick around. We don't, it turns out, get used to experiences as much. Experiences things like you go to a concert, you go to a cool museum, you go on a vacation. You take a vacation to the Caribbean or Europe or something. You don't have time to get used to it because most experiences don't last very long. Maybe the vacation is five days, concert is a couple of hours, it doesn't last long enough for you to get used to it. That means the happiness boost that we get from experiences is much better and much longer lasting than the happiness boost that we get from material goods. Again, I love Dan Gilbert's work so I can't help but quote him. He's talking about the new car before, about how the new car sticks around to disappoint you. He says this new car sticks around to disappoint you, but a trip to Europe is over. It evaporates. It has the good sense to go away and you're left with nothing but a wonderful memory. If we want to take hedonic adaptations seriously, it means we need to be investing in experiences, not material stuff that happiness bang for our buck that we get is better with experiences. That's psych pro tip number one. Psych pro tip number two is that we can fight adaptation a little bit, not get rid of it, but we can thwart it a little bit through the process of what's called savoring. What do I mean by savoring? Well, again, here's Beyonce's car. She's probably had this car for awhile. She's probably hedonically adapted to it, but she could turn on her happiness boost that she gets from it by thinking like man, this is a baller car the stereo system is amazing and the leather is really soft. She really is in the moment where she's mindfully paying attention to the positive features, she can get some happiness boost from it. That's the act of savoring. It's stepping outside of an experience to be wait a minute, hang on. This is a really cool experience. How would I talk to somebody about this? How would I tell my friends about it? What am I actually experiencing in this moment? That's the act of savoring. The problem is that we don't savor very much. All good experiences, whether it's having a delicious hot chocolate, riding in a car, experiencing those new shoes you bought, we could pay more attention to it mindfully. We just tend not to do that. The act of savoring is really turning that on. The one great way that I think we can use technology to savor a little bit more is to think about using our phones to get us in the savoring habit. If you've ever traveled on vacation somewhere, you often probably take your phone out to take a picture of what you're looking at. When you do that, you're often very mindful about it. You're, what does this look like? I want to capture it right. The act of using our phones can help us get into the mindset of savoring and paying attention to things. I think this is why people sometimes positively take pictures of the delicious foods they eat or something like that, done the right way that can let us savor. What's the right way? It's not doing it in a performative way. You're really trying to be in the moment. You're not thinking, well, how my friend will react to this? What is somebody going to think about this? You really need to be savoring the experience and the thing itself. Not doing it in a performative way. That's the way to use selfies to savor better. That's psych pro tip number two. Psych pro tip number three is that we can also thwart hedonic adaptation through a process of what's called negative visualization. This is something that the ancient stoics back in the day came up with. You can visualize the bad thing to get some happiness boost. How are we going to define negative visualization, we're going to call it this act of thinking about a bad counterfactual of a good thing. The opposite of the good thing, what would it be if it wasn't good? This sounds a little bit weird. It sounds you're throwing away in your brain all the good things in life. But it can, in a weird way cause you to appreciate them yet again, one of the most famous cases of negative visualization was this famous holiday movie, It's a Wonderful Life. Have you any of you seen It's a Wonderful Life to use another premise, show of hands. Some of you. For those that haven't seen it. Basically the Jimmy Stewart character, he's sad about his life, and I think this angel or somebody comes and basically it shows him what his life would be like if he was never existed. He's like oh my gosh, this counterfactual of me never existing would be really bad. I'm so happy with my life. I love it. That's negative visualization and it sounds strange, but it can powerfully make you appreciate things that you don't often appreciate. To see the power of this, let's try it. I'm guessing that most of you have a phone right now, some sort of cell phone with you. I want you to think about what would happen if when you reach for your phone the next time it was dead, you get the brick of death. It's just gone, and you have this moment of realizing, like oh my gosh, I had all my contacts on there. I didn't really back them up. My photos are gone. How am I going to call somebody later? I don't even know what I'm going to do this summer and my programs, I need my phone. But, you don't, that didn't happen probably when you take your phone. It's going to be okay. That was just a silly little toy example, but my guess is the next time you pick your phone up, having done that, you'll have a little bit more savoring for it. You won't have hedonically adapted to it as much. That's negative visualization. It happens really fast, but it can be super powerful. The data suggests that it can lead us to appreciate things we might've taken for granted for a while, Koo and colleagues looked at this in the context of romantic relationships, something that we definitely get hedonically adapted to, especially if you've been dating somebody for a while, you tend to take that person for granted, and so this is what they've tried to look at. They brought couples in and have them write for 15 minutes about a negative visualization. What if you never met your partner? What if you never got together? What would your life be like versus a control where you write about just how you actually met your partner. They're both doing the writing, but one is thinking about, like oh man, if I never know my partner, all these bad things would happen. Then they look at overall how happy people are and how happy they are in their relationship. What you find is that people are at both happier in the moment, they have a higher mood and they're happier with their relationship, when they do this quick little 15 minute negative visualization. It can cause you to relike something that you've forgotten was really valuable in your life. Those are just some strategies about how you don't shut off hedonic adaptation. But you can work with it a little bit to get that happiness boost that you used to get at the beginning, you can stop yourself from getting so used to stuff.