Is Novelty the Essence of Happiness?

Is Novelty the Essence of Happiness?

“This attractive alienation resembles the necessary strangeness of objects of beauty. It is kind of estrangement that idealizes the object, or archetypalizes it.” - David Lenson


"[When you say you want to be happy]... what you mean is that you want to be able to continue to explore, continue to learn, you want to continue to discover novel landscapes of mind, of perception, of thoughts. We settle down into these routines and then we wonder why we’re miserable, and I think it’s ultimately because happiness lives in the space of novelty" - Jason Silva

Reductionistic? Maybe.
But Silva's words harmonize well with neuroscience.


The release of dopamine, the "reward chemical", is triggered by novelty.

“When we see something new, we see it has a potential for rewarding us in some way. This potential that lies in new things motivates us to explore our environment for rewards. The brain learns that the stimulus, once familiar, has no reward associated with it and so it loses its potential. For this reason, only completely new objects activate the midbrain area and increase our levels of dopamine.”  (Article)
                  - Dr. Emrah Duzel, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Beyond quick thrills, A 2010 study ties acts of novelty to life satisfaction.

J Soc Psychol. 2010 May-Jun;150(3):235-7. doi: 10.1080/00224540903365554.
Acts of kindness and acts of novelty affect life satisfaction.
Buchanan KE1, Bardi A.

Abstract:

The present experiment was designed to establish the effects of acts of kindness and acts of novelty on life satisfaction. Participants aged 18-60 took part on a voluntary basis. They were randomly assigned to perform either acts of kindness, acts of novelty, or no acts on a daily basis for 10 days. Their life satisfaction was measured before and after the 10-day experiment. As expected, performing acts of kindness or acts of novelty resulted in an increase in life satisfaction.