Home > World Issues > The secret of a wonderful life. The law of diminishing returns and intervals.

The secret of a wonderful life. The law of diminishing returns and intervals.

The search for the secret to a successful life seems to be more difficult than quantum physics, but it is not.  More books have been written on the subject than any other.  Books of spiritual fulfillment, financial gain, sexual satisfaction, relational satisfaction, or even self love have been published since the 1500’s and none of them have become end all to a successful life.  It is time to fill everyone in on the keys to a successful life.  It will not take a book, or even a chapter.  The secret to a successful life can be written in a single blog entry.

If you know computers and programming, the books on a successful life are high level programming self help guides.  They help you understand the program you are working on, but you still know nothing about how the computer works.  In other words, “men are from mars, women are from venus” might help you be more comfortable with the opposite sex in our society (I do not recommend the book, nor do I think it is accurate.), but it does nothing to explain the truths about the opposite sex from a core understanding.  For instance, this book tells you that men and women are different species (The metaphor of us being from different planets.), but the truth is that we all start with the same sex organs as a fetus and through chemical interaction we develop into boys or girls.  In other words, we are only different because society and biological chemicals make us that way.  This self help guide is a band-aid and not a cure.  It is bad science because it is such high level programming that it does not address the root of a successful life.

The core of our being is response to stimulus.  You have a life experience and you are either filled or drained (positive or negative experiences).  The books you are reading give you a path to a filling experience, but they do not tell you the law of diminishing returns.  Ask any crack addict, alcoholic, or sex addict.  They will tell you that each time they get their stimulus it is not nearly as good as the last time, and NEVER as good as the first time.  The same can be said for every experience in life.  Coffee, sugar, Mountain Dew, sex, drugs, and even rock and roll give you less and less of a filling experience the more you use them.

The knee jerk reaction to this is to stop partaking.  Once the rock and roll song loses its pleasure you migrate to soft rock, then to background music.  Once the coffee loses its kick you start adding sugar, and more sugar to keep up the pleasure, but end up simply doing it out of habit to reach your normal operating speed.  Drug addicts leave their sources of pleasure because they are taught that it will never be the same again.  This is not true.  Diminishing returns are not an end to pleasure.  Diminishing returns are counteracted by intervals.  The crack cocaine will be wonderful again if you stay away for 6 to 8 months.  The alcohol drunk will be great again after a few months of being away, and sex will be great again within just a short month or two of abstinence.

People who hike in mountains say that they never lose their awe of the beauty.  You need to understand that these are the people who go hiking once a month.  Ask the logger what he liked about the mountain that day and he will tell you that he didn’t notice anything.  It’s the law of diminishing returns and the application of interval management.  The hikers get the proper interval to retain the awe of nature.  The logger has experienced the complete destruction of the awe due to his daily work in the mountains.

A truly successful life is the management of diminishing returns along with the understanding of the interval to recharge or repair the body to receive the maximum pleasure once again.  I have only given a few extreme examples in this blog, but this is a law of human biology.  Your brain, your dopamine receptors, your sense of touch, your taste buds, and even your metabolism react to these laws with exact results.   If you want a successful life, learn to manage the things you enjoy.  When the joy diminishes begin the interval.  It will only take a couple of times to get the interval to the exact point at which you can begin again, and the exact point at which you need to abstain again.

Try this science on anything in your life that does not give you the pleasure it once did.  Try this on relationships, food, drink, drugs, sex, music, entertainment, nature, business, and everything else in life.  You will be happier and more successful in achieving the best life possible for you.

Long live science.


  1. Zanna
    April 21, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Or to put it more simply, “Variety is the spice of life” and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. I think you’re addressing pleasurable experiences rather than overall happiness though, aren’t you? Nonetheless, I like the concept and it’s an easy thing to remember the way you put it. Nice blog.

    • April 21, 2010 at 10:02 pm

      No, sorry. Variety is the spice of life for some. Others have a select few passions. This blog was about how the thrill of those select passions can wane and how to use intervals of abstinence to rekindle the passion. Those who have variety usually do not experience this problem as the move from one addiction to another to keep the high.

      Also, Absence makes the heart grow fonder is about relationships. I have found the opposite to be true. Short absences can make the desire greater, but once a person replaces the focus of that desire, OR enough time has passes, the desire for that person naturally wanes.

      This blog entry really addressed those who are facing depression or anxiety because they have a limited set of passions and cannot figure out why they do not feel the same way they use to feel about the activity.

  2. Zanna
    April 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Yes, you are right, and I understand what you were addressing. It would indeed be difficult for a person to be continually satisfied if they have only one pleasure. I guess we’re both saying the same thing in different ways – an activity loses it’s pizzazz when done repeatedly. I would encourage variety, you would encourage intervals between activity, which is actually the same thing because even in doing nothing we must be doing something, even if its just sitting in a chair and staring off into space.
    Regarding the second figure of speech, I was indeed using it in the broad sense of the word, not specifically toward relationships, since that was not the issue. I think it can apply to any passion/pleasure that remains a focus, and I also think that what you said is true, that the passion/pleasure can be replaced. It is a commonly accepted practice by behavior management specialists, that an obsession or addiction can only stop when a new focus (and hopefully a more healthy one) takes its place. This is true of addictions and also of relationships when they are pleasure or passion based.
    Genuine charitable love-based relationships, on the other hand, are a different thing, as is also a happy life as opposed to a pleasurable life. Genuinely loving relationships do not wane, even when the two people never see each other. Genuinely happy people are happy no matter what they are doing.
    But I know that this is not the subject matter in this blog, and I appreciate your suggestions directed to those who are unhappy in trying to find pleasure out of a single addiction or obsession. Understanding diminishing return and allowing for intervals is indeed useful information. Nice analysis! 🙂

  3. June 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

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