You can't buy happiness. Or, at least, you can't buy lasting happiness. The reason is a psychological phenomenon called hedonic adaptation. (Or the "hedonic treadmill.")
The theory goes that we each have a baseline of happiness (some people are just naturally happier than others). When great things or horrible things happen to us, our happiness goes up or down accordingly. But after we get used to the new thing, our happiness level reverts to the baseline.
That shiny new smartphone makes us happier than our old phone did, but only for a short time. We ultimately revert to our previous level of happiness -- we "adapt" to the "hedonism" of owning an overpriced new gadget.
In other words, new things and new experiences do make us happy. But once they're no longer new, their effect on our sense of happiness fades with the novelty.
It turns out that we never loved that new phone because its features were great. We loved it because it's great features were new.
Living as a gastronomad, moving constantly from place to place and actively exploring new food and cultural experiences, leaves hedonic adaptation in the dust.
This month alone, Amira and I have lived or will live in Silicon Valley, Barcelona, Venice, the Prosecco Hills, Rome, Sicily, Fez, Chefchaouen, Marrakesh, Meknes, Essaouira and a tent in the Sahara. We rarely stick around any place long enough for the newness -- and the happiness -- to wear off.
There are many aspects of living as gastronomads that are happiness inducing — the friendships, the memories, the cultural enrichment.
But one aspect that’s under-appreciated is the happiness that comes from new experiences.
Happiness comes from many places, including personality, relationships and overall income level and wellbeing. We can't control some of this. But we can make life new all the time by living as globe-trotting Gastronomads -- and never letting hedonic adaptation catch us.