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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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The Psychology Of Hedonic Adaptation

The Psychology Of Hedonic Adaptation

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/behavior/the-psychology-of-hedonic-adaptation-what-you-should-know-about-it/

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Key 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 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.

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.

Reasonings behind hedonic adaptation

People become used to whatever changes are causing their increase in happiness. Over time, the initial excitement of the thing that happened wears off with a return to the "set level of happiness."

Someone who undergoes a positive experience with desirable offshoots can shift their levels of expectation. It then becomes their new normal.

Combating Hedonic Adaptation

The process of hedonic adaptation can be minimized, if not eliminated.

  • Uneventful everyday routines are the ultimate breeding ground for hedonic adaptation. Variety can help maintain and even increase the excitement and joy that accompanies positive life experiences.
  • Gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in one's life can also combat hedonic adaptation.

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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.

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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.

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3 kinds of happy lives
  • The pleasant life: you fill your life with as many pleasures as you can. This has hardly any contribution to lasting fulfilment.
  • The life of engagement, where y...
Habits Of Supremely Happy People
  • They surround themselves with other happy people.
  • They cultivate resilience.
  • They appreciate simple pleasures.
  • They devote some of their time to giving.
  • They get immersed in activities that bring joy.
  • They nix the small talk for deeper conversations. 
  • They make a point to listen. 
  • They look on the bright side.
  • They make exercise a priority.
  • They listen to good music.
  • They spend time in nature.
  • They laugh a lot.