"Eventually, the thrill of winning the lottery will itself wear off. If all things are judged by the extent to which they depart from a baseline of past experience, gradually even the most positive events will cease to have impact as they themselves are absorbed into the new baseline against which further events are judged. Thus, as lottery winners become accustomed to the additional pleasures made possible by their new wealth, these pleasures should be experienced as less intense and should no longer contribute very much to their general level of happiness." - Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative?
I can see the justification that it may be inconsiderate or socially unacceptable for those with such few burdens to bear, issues to worry about to wear a low baseline of happiness on their sleeves. After all, a vast majority of the world's population endures so much more the former may not even be able to fathom. Though controversial, I can also understand the pleas of emptiness, numbness in those raised in privileged environments. Can they really be put to blame for the backgrounds they inherited through fate?
The less you have, the higher the capacity for novelty in your life. The higher the possibility for exciting new thrills, for sights and sounds so grandiose they may seem fictional, for experiences that make you tear up dumbfounded. A child gazes at a waterfall differently than a well-travelled adult does. The first taste of sushi tastes worlds apart from that of the hundredth, thousandth bite.
Emotions hit us less hard as we age, as we encounter similar experiences repeatedly and become more well-versed in the many facets of life. I guess this explains the loss of a childlike sense of wonder in adults as we feel and process more and more of the entire emotion spectrum. Some of us endure great periods of grief and melancholy, some of us snooze in comfort coasting through life with little to no challenge at all. Those in the former, despite their hardships, have much to look forward to, to aspire towards, to hope whereas those in the latter, undeniably fortunate, do not have this privilege. Those who "have it all", particularly through circumstance at a younger age, may feel a sense of hopelessness for the lack of experiences left to live, for the loss of excitement for a new day, if they've already enveloped much of what life has to offer.
I'd like to stay optimistic and hope that there is no way a person may go through every nook and cranny of emotions and experiences life has to offer. Two trips to a country may evoke completely different emotional responses from one to another. A part of me though is skeptical. Sometimes a successive trip abroad seems not as exhilarating only because it is no longer the inaugural. A following visit to a restaurant may no longer feel as astonishing simply because of this lack of novelty.
Is this emotion dilution inevitable for us all?
Considering intense emotions strongly associated with happiness, relationships come to mind. In the realm of romance too, will the thrill, the infatuation after that of one's first relationship be less intense, less fluttering than the foremost? Entering this new and exciting notion of a relationship, our happiness soars. We have the time of our lives, try to adjust and balance all these feelings of obsession, sleeplessness, pure unadulterated joy cherishing this new person deeply entrenched in the our lives, compassionate about us in incredible capacity.
Even before the next, within the span of a single relationship, as we become more accustomed to all these sensations and feelings, do these feelings become more diluted over time, regardless of who the significant other is? Do we stop valuing it as much, stop valuing how much they care, how much they matter? After the initial euphoria in a first love, have we depleted our potential for the purest form of an intensely charged first love for the rest of our lives?
Part of me is accepting of this bittersweet fact, that the anticipation, the fervor, the anguish of a first love are emotions that are once-in-a-lifetime, that memories will last but emotions will come, be felt, and then fade away forever. Ephemerality gives these moments meaning. Part of me is even grateful for emotion dilution; we end up becoming more resistant towards not just positive but also negative stimuli, transitioning our personalities toward more disaffected but collected ones.
Maybe what I call emotion dilution is just what others have been calling wisdom all along.