Reading through Stumbling on Happiness has brought to light a number of things that I’ve always thought but needed somebody to put into words so that I could understand it myself.

Case in point, the excerpt below which describes in some detail why I often LOVE eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch when I haven’t had it for a long time, but when I gradually eat through two boxes back to back, the 2nd box just becomes “normal cereal” (meaning, I’m less excited about eating it and tasting it).

Among life’s cruelest truths is this one: Wonderful things are especially wonderful the first time they happen, but their wonderfulness wanes with repetition. Just compare the first and last time your child said “Mama” or your partner said “I love you” and you’ll know exactly what I mean. When we have an experience – hearing a particular sonata, making love with a particular person, watching the sun set from a particular window of a particular room – on successive occasions, we quickly begin to adapt to it, and the experience yields less pleasure each time. Psychologists call this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage. But human beings have discovered two devices that allow them to combat this tendency: variety and time. One way to beat habituation is to increase the variety of one’s experiences. Another way to beat habituation is to increase the amount of time that separates repetitions of the experience. Clinking champagne glasses and kissing one’s spouse at the stroke of midnight would be relatively dull exercise were it to happen every evening, but if one does it on New Year’s Eve and then allows a full year to pass before doing it again, the experience will offer an endless bouquet of delights because a year is plenty long enough for the effects of habituation to disappear. The point here is that time and variety are two ways to avoid habituation, and if you have one, then you don’t need the other. In fact, when episodes are sufficiently separated in time, variety is not only unnecessary – it can actually be costly.

But more than just some reasoning behind why I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the fact that what this tells me is that I cannot rely on my brain to accurately tell me how I’m going to enjoy a specific period in time in the future. Why? Because what I think of the future right now is going to be different than what I think of the future later on, and all of the events and feelings that may transpire between now and later are just downright impossible to fully imagine or perceive in my head. After all, I can’t fill in details of a life I don’t yet know.