Can anything in life ever surpass winning 14 gold medals?

Maybe not.

Research shows that extremely positive events can skew perspective so much that everything that follows pales in comparison. Maybe this is why many athletes have trouble staying retired.

Via Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness:

As I was watching Michael Phelps receive his 14th gold medal – what a week! – this is what I was thinking: “How could anything in this 23-year old swimmer’s life ever top this?” And: “After he comes down from the high, will he ultimately end up less happy than the rest of us mere mortals?” This may be a downer question, but it’s not a glib one. Research suggests that an extremely positive event (or “peak experience”) can skew our distribution of life events in such a way that makes everything that follows it pale by comparison.

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