A hedonic treadmill is not a piece of exercise equipment, but rather an analogy for the belief that
an increase in material wealth does not always imply an increase in happiness. To put it another way, money does not buy happiness. A person on the hedonic treadmill may experience a temporary increase or decrease in his or her personal happiness level, but after adjusting to the
circumstances, it will eventually return to a predetermined and neutral level. A lottery winner,
for example, may feel more content after paying off debts and purchasing luxury items, but his or
her desires and expectations will eventually return to normal.
The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is a metaphor for your happiness
threshold. The concept here is that regardless of how good or bad something makes you feel, you
will eventually return to your original emotional state.
Hedonic treadmill and lasting happiness
According to the hedonic treadmill theory, major positive or negative events or life changes have
little influence on long-term happiness. After experiencing both good and bad things in life, you
will return to your “happiness set point.”
When it comes to material possessions, they eventually become something you use habitually,
and you lose appreciation for them as a result. When these items are no longer enjoyable, they
become needs rather than wants. This means that the amount of deprivation you feel when you
don’t have these once-coveted items are greater than the amount of happiness you have when you
Let’s say a new Smartphone is coming out in a few months and you can’t wait to get your hands
on it. You believe that as soon as you get that Smartphone, you will be ecstatic and all of your
problems will vanish. Then comes the day when you get the phone and are excited to see how it
will change your life. But after a few days, you’re using this phone the same way you were using
your previous one, and it hasn’t seemed to have any effect on your life. Instead of being the prize,
you’ve been hoping for, the phone has become an everyday item that you use. If you are
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Ways to avoid the hedonic treadmill
Daily mindfulness practice allows you to pause and reflect on
the things in your life for which you are grateful. It also allows you to live in the moment
and notice the small things around you that would otherwise go unnoticed in your busy
life. Engaging in mindfulness practices can help you relax and take a mind-body
approach to change the way you think and feel about your experiences, particularly
stressful ones. Instead of causing your feelings to rise and fall, doing so can keep you at a
relatively stable level of happiness.
By accepting your emotions
Emotional avoidance can lead to a variety of
psychological issues. While it may seem reasonable and prudent to avoid negative
emotions, these emotions are typically associated with negative events in our lives that
we wish to forget. While avoidance may provide temporary relief, in the long run,
avoidance exacerbates problems that were previously avoided.
Avoiding your negative emotions may benefit you in the short term, but it will harm you
in the long run. Avoiding the discomfort of a negative emotion works for a short time, but
the emotions return the next day. The longer this is done, the longer the issue is
postponed, and the unresolved issue grows in size.
Setting mindful goals:
The research on pursuing goals and your well-being reveals a
link between goal achievement and reported levels of happiness and life satisfaction.
Making progress on goals makes people happy and satisfied, which leads to an increase
in goal-directed behaviours. This suggests that positive emotions can motivate people to
act in ways that help them achieve their goals. If you set meaningful goals and start
making progress toward them, you will notice an increase in your well-being, which will
motivate you to take more action and progress toward happiness. The catch is that if you
don’t find the goal or task meaningful, you will put it off until another time.
Performing a daily “gratitude exercise,” such as writing down a few
things for which you are grateful each night, can boost your happiness. Gratitude
exercises like this one steer people away from resentment and despair and toward
happiness. It is a good idea to force yourself to be grateful at least once a day.
Everyone has bad days and frustrating moments, but that shouldn’t keep you from taking
a moment to appreciate the good in your life. This positive thinking has a cumulative
effect that will have you realise that some things you thought were very important in life
may not be so important after all. Practising gratitude is a simple and long-lasting habit
that can help you feel happier.
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