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The Psychology Of Hedonic Adaptation

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 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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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 ...

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.
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.

Hedonic Adaptation: Eternal Dissatisfaction

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 happin...

Our Happiness Formula Is Wrong

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.

Happiness Comes First, Then Success

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.

Happiness
Happiness

Happiness is when a person feels satisfaction, contentment, and elation in their life. It is a fulfilling feeling to have despite it having varying definitions.

The term is...

The two fundamental components of 'happiness'
  1. Emotional balance - We all experience positive and negative feelings from time to time. How one handles their emotional state is crucial as to how they radiate this energy towards everything they have going on in their life;
  2. Life satisfaction - People experience emotions differently whenever an event occurs in their lives. How you feel about your own life - from your relationships to personal achievements - matter to your happiness.
Measuring your happiness

Here are questions you should ask yourself to know if you are happy:

  • Do you feel like you have the life you want? Are you working towards the life that you want?
  • Does your environment bring you peace of mind?
  • Have you accomplished the things you want in your life? Are these goals important to you?
  • Are you content as you are right now? What are the things you're doing that is contributing to your happiness?
  • Have you stopped and wondered if you feel more positively than you were before?