The Law of Diminishing Returns is an old economic theory that is still useful in today’s society. This law states that achievement in any area of life adds to happiness only up to a certain point. Beyond that point, more and more gains in any one particular area adds less and less to happiness. In plain English, the theory is saying that you CAN have too much of a good thing. The more you experience of the good thing, your overall happiness will decline.
This principle can be applied to practically any situation in real life. Let me give you a few examples. If you love ice cream, then this law will explain that on your fifth serving of Dryer’s Rocky Road, you eventually will no longer be happy with it. In fact you may become sick of that flavor and despise it.
Another example of this law in effect is in regards to relationships. The thrills, excitement and butterflies that you get from your partner decreases the more that you are in contact with them. There have been studies done which show that romantic love only lasts at most 18 months. No wonder couples complain of falling out of love.
Love is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Most people never see the thorns that lie in the blooming of love. The world has seen many relationships where love blossoms and where love goes sour. In the beginning of the relationship, the feeling is amazing. If you were to poll people, most would say that being in love is the best feeling they have ever felt.
However, months later, the Law of Diminishing Returns will cause the love to fade away. This is the time when couples start to see faults in one another. This is the same person in the beginning who they were in love with and that they would spend the rest of each other’s life with. Instead of saying “I have a reason to live now”, they are saying “I have a reason to die now.”
This law also applies to the heroin addict who has to take larger and larger doses just to experience the same high that he got for the very first time. In this case, the more drug the addict took, the less pleasure he got from it. This eventually will lead the addict to taking so much drug that he will eventually overdose from it.
In each of these examples, happiness is affected mostly at the beginning. After a certain level has been achieved (I have satisfied my ice cream craving or I found the love of my life), additional gains (eating more ice cream or spending more time with your love) makes less and less difference to happiness. Happiness is achieved when the basic needs are met rather than when the maximal needs met.
So how can you keep the Law of Diminishing Returns from ruining your happy existence? Unfortunately in life, the saying that “nothing lasts forever” is true. The only exception perhaps is that of a diamond. Yeah, for some reason those seem to last forever.
First, you need to keep in mind that almost anything that can bring you pleasure or happiness is subject to the “Law of Diminishing Returns.” That’s just the way life works. Get in the habit to train yourself in recognizing when the Law is in effect.
For example, let’s say you already finished your second cup of coffee. You are now feeling hyper, restless and agitated. Learn to recognize those signs so that you will not go for the third cup of coffee.
Second, once you become skilled at recognizing the signs of the “Law”, you need to learn to pull back no matter how hard it is for you to do. If you are in a budding relationship, it is important to take it slow as falling too fast will ensure that the “Law of Diminishing Returns” will happen.
In the previous example of the cups of coffee, even if you love drinking coffee and have a hard time giving it up, you need to pull back from drinking more as the benefits will start to diminish. Remember to stop doing things when they give you less and less value in return.
Finally, realize that there are other needs in your life that need to be met. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You eventually will become bored with it. Know when to stop and participate in other activities that will give you value in return.
For example, you can’t surf the internet all day and expect not to become bored to death with it. The value of happiness of your time on the internet has gone down. This is time where you bow out and participate in other events that will give you value.
Another example is when you have spent 24/7 in close contact with your special love. Eventually the “law” occurs and the happiness of being close diminishes. This is the perfect opportunity for the both of you to have a girls night out to go shopping or a guys night out having a drink and watching a game.
Indeed, you can have too much of a good thing. Hopefully you will be able to recognize the signs and that you do have the power to change it.