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How Hedonic Adaptation Robs You of Happiness-and How to Change That

https://www.verywellmind.com/hedonic-adaptation-4156926

verywellmind.com

How Hedonic Adaptation Robs You of Happiness-and How to Change That
Hedonic adaptation, also known as "the hedonic treadmill," is a concept studied by positive psychology researchers and others who focus on happiness and well-being that refers to people's general tendency to return to a set level of happiness despite life's ups and downs.

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Hedonic adaptation

Hedonic adaptation refers to people’s common tendency to return to a determined level of happiness regardless of life’s ups and downs.

Hedonic adaptation is often referred to as “the hedonic treadmill” because we always end up where we started.

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Examples of Hedonic Adaptation

  • People who win the lottery are likely to revert to their original levels of happiness after the novelty of the win has worn off.
  • It is also true for those who are in major accidents. People generally tend to return to their pre-accident levels of happiness after a period.
  • Research has found that the first bite of something delicious is experienced as more pleasurable than the subsequent bites.

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How Much Control We Have

Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky has examined this set-point:

A full 50 percent of our happiness set-point is due to genetics. 10 percent is affected primarily by circumstances like where we were born and to whom. 40 percent is subject to our influence.

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Being Prone to Hedonic Adaptation

Certain pleasures are more prone to hedonic adaptation. These pleasures can lift your mood quickly, but their effects can be short-lived. You may also get used to them fairly quickly. For example, If you have the same meal every day, you may find it to be less enjoyable by the end of the week. This is also true for fresh flowers or listening to your favorite song.

Gratifications, as well as activities that give a strong sense of meaning to us, are more immune to the effects of hedonic adaptation.

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How to Minimize Hedonic Adaptation

  • Make sure you include several pleasures throughout your day. Get a cup of coffee or call your friend.
  • Alternate your pleasures. This way they always feel new.
  • Make time for your hobbies.
  • Find time for meaningful activities.
  • Savor your positive experiences. Keep a journal and write about three things you enjoyed every day.
  • Take note of your happiness levels. Make time for whatever you can do to lift your mood.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Hedonic Adaptation

... also referred to as hedonic treadmill, is defined as "the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or...

Elements of Hedonic Adaptation

  • Shifting adaptation levels: When an individual experiences a slight emotional up or down, and then returns to his or her default level of happiness.
  • Desensitization: When an individual becomes desensitized to a circumstance or situation they no longer have the same reactions that another person might experience. 
  • Sensitization: When an individual is sensitized to a certain situation, they get used to something that they were not previously accustomed to. 

Hedonic Adaptation Critics

Critics view the hedonic adaptation tendency as a generalization that fails to take potentially shifting factors into account.

  • Significant life events such as loss of employment or the end of a major relationship can change one's original level of contentment.
  • Negative events are often more significant than positive ones.
  • Consuming certain medication may also alter the set level of happiness in a person who has mental illness or other clinical problems.

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Count your blessings

Spend 5 to 10 minutes at the end of each day writing in detail about three things that went well that day, large or small, and also describing why you think they happened.

Mental subtraction

You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. 

Consider the many ways in which important, positive events in your life—such as a job opportunity or educational achievement—could have never taken place, and then reflecting on what your life would be like without them.

Savor

We have a tendency to adapt to pleasurable things—a phenomenon called “hedonic adaptation”—and appreciate them less and less over time. 

We can interrupt this process by trying the Give it Up practice, which requires temporarily giving up pleasurable activities and then coming back to them later, this time with greater anticipation and excitement.

Subjective well-being

This is the primary way Positive Psychology researchers have defined and measured people's happiness and well-being.

It's defined as your evaluations of your own life and your mo...

Subjective Well-Being components

It consists of 3 parts: positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction.

Positive affect and negative affect are basically your emotions and moods, and life satisfaction refers to the evaluation of your life as a whole (how satisfied you are with your life, what you would change etc).

Measuring Subjective Well-Being

Tracking your own subjective well-being can be very powerful if you keep alongside a journal of your life's events. 

Keep it up for some time and you will see trends emerge. You'll also be able to adjust your activities in order to maximize positive affect and life satisfaction and minimize negative affect.