Thursday, March 15, 2012


I spent some time today going through some old files at my parents' house.  It is amazing how much I had forgotten of what I looked through, particularly when I was looking at some of my accomplishments.

A lot of this was sparked when my mom found a letter from Who's Who Among American High School Students.  If you are not familiar with that organization, they recognize only five percent of US high school students every year.  To quote the letter:
"Who's Who is the most respected student recognition publication and award program in the nation.  Our standards have been cited by education, parent and teachers associations at the state and national levels.  Over 93% of colleges and universities surveyed equate the Who's Who award with academic excellence."
After finding that, my mom reminded me that I had scored a 1500 on the SAT when I was in seventh grade.  I don't include all of this here simply to toot my own horn (though I was pretty awesome back in the day).  I mention this because I am shocked that I would forget such achievements from my past.  These were huge accomplishments that (I would have thought) would have stayed with me forever.  Why did I forget about these?

Well, I've read a few articles online that suggest the human brain is not designed with happiness as the "base" mood.  In fact, happiness is used by our brains as a sort of carrot on the stick motivator for us.  In order to prevent us from becoming complacent, our brain only allows us to enjoy happiness for a brief period of time before returning to our base mood.

This helps make sense of why I would forget about such accomplishments from my past.  After experiencing the joy and happiness from these achievements, my brain settled me down in order for me to focus on the next accomplishment.  Perhaps this is why so many of us can feel like we are missing out on feeling happy.  We're not really missing out.  Sometimes, we just forget about some of the things that made us happy so that we can move on to the next achievement.

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