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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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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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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RELATED IDEAS

... 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 life changes"  - Positive Psychology Program.

After a while, people become used to changes in their lives. The enjoyment or unhappiness that follows certain life events gradually wears off, returning each person to their "default" emotional state.

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IDEAS

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 moods and emotions (that's why it's labeled as "subjective").

Positive psychology will not prevent life's problems but will give a lens through which one can view difficulties. Finding the silver lining in every cloud lays the foundation by which resetting is made possible.

Positive psychology will not necessarily prevent illness, but their approach can be beneficial when combined with other treatments.

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