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August 3, 2015 5:00 PM EDT

Pick an awesome first day: The first day you started a new job, opened a business, bought a new house, landed a huge customer, met your significant other…

Pick a first day when you felt incredibly excited. Pick a day when everything felt new and filled with promise and hope and potential and anticipation. Pick a day that truly felt like the start of a better, happier, and more fulfilling life.

Now remember how you felt that day. Bask in the glow of that memory. I’ll wait.


Now think about how you feel today.

Ouch. I’m guessing those wonderful feelings just disappeared. Today probably feels the same as yesterday, and tomorrow seems like just one more of a seemingly endless string of similar days stretching off into the distance.

What changed? You changed. You adapted.

But don’t feel bad. Adaptation is natural. When something good happens you feel happier for a while. Then you adapt to your new situation and return to your baseline “happy state.”

Buy a Porsche and for a little while you feel happier (and maybe a little smug)… but soon that new Porsche is just your same old car. Buy a new house and for a while you’re happier… but soon you adapt and your new house is just your same old house.

But wait! What if you bought a Lamborghini? Hey, now that would make you happy. And what if you bought a new house on the golf course… hey, now that would be awesome.

For a while.

We all naturally revise our expectations upwards, and when our expectations go up our level of happiness goes back down.

Research shows that where vacations are concerned the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning the vacation: Vacation anticipation boosts happiness for an average of eight weeks.

After the vacation, though, happiness levels quickly drop to baseline levels, typically within days. Soon the people who went on vacation aren’t any happier than the people who did not.

So do this: Think back to the first day you chose. Say it’s the day you opened your own business. You were excited and thrilled because finally — finally! — you got to start calling your own shots. For the first time in your life your professional success – and income – would only be capped by your skills, creativity, and work ethic.

Now think about today. Nothing has really changed. You still call your own shots. Your professional success is still only limited by your skills, creativity, and work ethic. You still don’t have a boss, still get to do what you love, still get to take chances and seize opportunities and work with people you enjoy.

Nothing has changed… except you. In reality, today is just like that first day.

You just see it differently.

And now do this: Step outside your office, workplace, or home. Think back to that first day. Picture yourself about to walk through the door. Remember how you felt. Remember your goals and dreams. Remember how thrilled you were to start what felt like a new life.

Then walk back inside. Look around.

Nothing has changed — except you.

So smile, nod to yourself, and go rock it like it’s the first day.

Because it is.

LinkedIn Influencer Jeff Haden originally published this post on LinkedIn. Follow Jeff on LinkedIn.

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