We’ve all had that experience, the one where our home smells different after we’ve been away for several days. Oftentimes, our home still smelled the same way; instead, our noses have de-acclimated to the usual smell. The same goes for so many other sensations.
Our skin acclimates to our clothes, our eyes to the ambient light of the room, our hearing to the background noise. We don’t notice the acclimation until we’re removed from their context. We might not notice that our pants are slightly itchy and distracting us as we work, that the lights are too low and that we’re squinting to read, or that the whine of the florescent lights are slowing driving us up the wall. Hedonic adaption works in reverse, too, as we revert towards the mean of our baseline happiness.
Irritants remain, however, despite acclimation. Our minds have to filter that unwanted input out, sapping our contentment and taking energy away from more important tasks. The next time you’ve been away from your home or office or other familiar haunt, before you readjust to it, ask yourself: What have I acclimated to in my environment that I’m better off without?