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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.
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.
When we obtain our desires, needs and wants, we quickly get accustomed to it, taking those shiny toys for granted, and easily getting bored with them. We mistakenly look for happiness in this hedonic adaptation, a thirst that never gets quenched.
Short bursts of happiness that diminish after a week don't represent real happiness.
We have, since the beginning, a wrong formula implanted in our minds about the pursuit of happiness. We think if we do amazing work, attain big success, then we will be happy eventually.
The reality is that new goals are constantly on the horizon, and our so-called happiness keeps getting pushed further and further away. This leads to a feeling of emptiness, not happiness or contentment when a goal is fulfilled.
The real formula for success is to be happy first. If you are happy, and your work is great as a result, excellence is assured, which leads to success.
A happy person gravitates towards positivity, intelligence, creativity and better energy, and success then has no choice but to be associated with the person.
If we ever want to reach a workless society — or at least one where we work less — it won’t do to rely on dispassionate historical or technological forces to bring it about.
Instead, we’ll have to get it for ourselves.