Hedonic Adaptation. It’s like running on a treadmill in the pursuit of happiness, but never reaching your “destination” and always ending up right where you started. Hedonic adaptation (also called the “Hedonic Treadmill”) was a term first created in the 1970s by psychologists Brickman and Campbell. It’s a term that humans chase happiness and then return to their emotional baseline after reaching that temporary, fleeting “happy” moment. Hedonistic adaptation too, can be related to a negative experience and you also returning to that emotional baseline relatively quickly. Studies were done in the 1970s in which people who were experienced positive experiences (such as winning the lottery) and then others who had experienced a traumatic negative experience (such as a life altering injury). Both groups of people returned to their emotional baseline in about the same amount of time.
For example if you obsess about that “one thing”, that promotion at work, that next big vacation, or buying that new furniture. You experience it, are full of happiness, and then wham…back to the same hum drum emotional baseline. Hedonic adaptation can also be the cause of seeing and remembering the negative in situations versus the positive.
Hedonic adaptation can be like an addiction and it’s time to jump off that bandwagon to experience true happiness. Embrace the everyday life and be thankful for what and who you have. Experiences can bring you more happiness, don’t get me wrong; but if that’s the only time you feel the rush of happiness, then it’s time to do some soul searching and learn to be HAPPY every day! Happiness truly does come from within.
If you’re wondering where to start in pursuing long lasting happiness. Try to plan for things that you enjoy throughout your day. Plan for that cup of tea, but not just grabbing one on the go and rushing through. Set aside 10 minutes to sit down and truly enjoy your tea. Organize your time to be truly intentional in doing things you love. Rotate the things that cause you pleasure. Find time for others, meditate on pleasurable experiences and meaningful activities, and be sure to include time for your hobbies.
Bottom line: In my humble mind, a lot of things relate to an image, so when I think of how to find true joy and getting off of the hedonic treadmill can be simple. So this is my simple idea; It is easy to capture something extraordinary, but the key to true joy is to find something extraordinary in all things that seem ordinary. You don’t have to take a photo, you can simple observe. But if you simply find the fabulous things in the ordinary, you will find great joy daily.