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Dream, Strive, Achieve...Then What? How to Hold on to Happiness!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #76 - Watch or listen HERE.

I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR! I love the joy of Christmas through the eyes of a 9-year-old who still buys Santa hook, line and sinker! The joy of family and friends. The joy of driving to the airport today to pick up my sister and her kids who haven’t been home for the holidays in two years.

I love our house at Christmas, from the outside lights to our new wooden tree in our newly painted dining room (SO PRETTY!). I love that our house gets a DEEP CLEAN at Christmas since we host our family for the big day and, yes, I clean the baseboards before the party…and after 😊!

It is a happy time!

I can’t think of the name of the Christmas carol, but there is one that wishes for Christmas all year long. There is part of me that would love that.

Truthfully, I think I’d wish for summer all year long! (Ohio resident problems 😊).

We think THINGS or OPPORTUNITES will make us happy. And they will…for a while!

If we had Christmas (or summer) all year, the magic would fade, the cheer would dissipate, the decorations would become one more thing to clean or clean around.

Ultimately, it would not be special anymore. We would take it for granted and not be any happier than we were before the things we looked forward to with great anticipation.

Such is true with all things.

Here is our M.O. We strive for or anticipate something – we get there – and then we realize, “eh, it’s okay!”

This can happen with making a team, earning a starting role, marriages, earning more money, winning a championship, new Christmas gifts…most things!

The excitement of the things we want fades quickly and things become our new normal. They say we may get more benefit from the lead-up to the events than the event itself. Just thinking about that vacation may be better for your well-being than the vacation itself! Crazy!

This happens with athletes, too. And if this is true, it affects our teams and their performance!

They work for and anticipate a scholarship.

They get it. They are pumped to announce, for their parents to brag. But then they must go out and play a million more games – with a little less excitement.

They get pumped again when it is time to get to campus. They are so happy to finally be a college athlete.

Then that wears off (after the first day of practice 😊)! Being a DI athlete becomes something we take for granted even though only 2% of high school athletes ever get to be one!

We get used to stuff. This can be both good and bad, depending on how you use it!

Psychologists call this HEDONIC ADAPTATION.

No ONE THING will keep us feeling happy, excited or engaged indefinitely.

BUT there are ways to stay happy and recreate those feelings of joy!


One way described by Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, is to remember the uniqueness or situations or opportunities. We need to remember what drove us…OUR WHY!

I have told this story before, but it reminds me of a mistake I made as a coach.

He tells a story about people who work in the White House, working 12-hour days, wishing for time with family, etc. The working conditions take a toll on their well-being.

One thing that increased their happiness levels was touring people around the White House!

The awe and wonder of visitors and sharing the history and uniqueness of their everyday experience reminded them of HOW SPECIAL having access to the most prestigious building in the world is!

I think back to my days at CSU and giving Official Visits tours to recruits. Sharing what was special about the place kept those special things front and center in my mind.

I did this, not because I knew it increased my satisfaction with my job, but because I was practically a one-man show and I was selling myself as much as I was selling the underrated campus.

As my staff grew. We had shinier and better things. I stopped giving tours. Little did I know that I was hurting myself by not sharing in the awe of those recruits as they traveled around to see our awesome facilities and meet our amazing staff.

I lost some of the excitement of our awesome facilities and campus which sometimes made me forget how darn lucky I was. I was on the hedonic treadmill. I also lost that opportunity to build deeper relationships which enhances our well-being, too!

What do we need to do to keep the uniqueness of what you and your athletes do at the forefront of your minds?

Research also shows that adding variety to our lives and a new sense of appreciation can help us hold on to the joy we feel in our experiences in and out of sport, too.

The simple act of mixing up practice can do the trick (as you are aware). That favorite drill done every day becomes a drill we move through without attention or intention, and we go through the motions. This happens to the very best of our athletes, too!

Tackle a new experience, a new skill, a new drill…a new challenge. Events experienced in new ways are more likely to lead to increased happiness.

Our mental performance tools can also help us avoid being complacent. Visualizing past and future experiences, being present, looking at something from a different perspective and noticing nuances can help us stay IN THE MOMENT and enjoy things as they happen and long after.

Through visualizing their highlight reel and simply stringing together a bunch of their best experiences, our athletes can relive their love of the game when that complacency sets in. This not only helps them feel the excitement of performing, but it also can help them build confidence and improve their skill.

Simply visualizing the joy of winning and seeing those they love being so proud of them can remind them of why they play and put in the work necessary to perform at their best.

We can’t forget the amazing tool of GRATITUDE! We have talked about these well-documented benefits before and ending practice talking about what we are grateful for…or even better, beginning it that way can help us give attention to all that is good and joyful!

Seasons and careers are long and sometimes hard. Figuring out how to help increase our happiness can make a big difference in how our teams function!

Hedonic adaptation is not normally looked at as a good thing. However, it can be!

We strive for something. We get it. We get used to it. Time to work for more!

This is a GOOD THING for our athletes!

You hit 61 MPH. Now it’s time to hit 63 MPH. Set a plan. Put in the work. Strive to be better.

The problem comes when we think reaching 63, winning a championship or entering that new relationship will be the thing that makes us happy forever.

WRONG! Remember, no one thing will keep us happy. We have to work at it.

Happiness is like a leaky tire. We must keep adding air to keep it rolling.

Getting our athletes off the hedonic treadmill by appreciating their opportunities, relationships and experiences will help increase their POSITIVE EMOTIONS.


Encouraging them to use hedonic adaptation or that feeling of contentment or "eh" to strive for more is another way to keep them moving forward – so long as we remind them that nothing will make them happy or content forever. Both are a choice!

Choosing to change our focus (by adding variety) and using our tools to keep us connected to our “why” can make us better…and more satisfied!

Here is to the JOY of the holiday season and finding joy in everyday stuff, too!

I hope you have a happy and healthy start to 2022!


Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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