What is hedonic adaptation?

The hedonic adaptation or the hedonic treadmill as it often called is the concept that humans always return to a particular state of happiness no matter the ups or downs into their lives. This means that happiness in static and no matter what we do, we will always go back to the same level.

The global level hedonic adaptation is happening now when we can easily compare people and things via social media and e-commerce websites. We become rapidly adapted to the things that we already have. This increases unhappiness and depression.

Example & research – 

For example, an athlete who has won a gold medal for his country in the Olympics will be ecstatic at first but is most likely to go back to the level of happiness before the games in the following weeks. 

Research has shown that the hedonic approach can be easily reduced by engaging in activities that are more gratifying in the long-term. For example, Suraj is a business owner while his friend Raj works a 9 to 5 job. 

Suraj has challenges everyday but he enjoys the process of building a business and hence looks forward to his job. Raj on the other hand has his own house, a good car, and other comforts which everyone desires, but he more or less follows the same routine every day. 

For Suraj, the hedonic adaptation is low because he finds happiness in long-term growth. But for Raj, it is high because after every small event he goes back to the same state of happiness.

The 5 ways to reduce hedonic adaptation:

  1. Having thankfulness for what we already have reduces hedonic adaptation and it makes us happy now.
  2. Doing a gratitude journal regularly about the people & life events at present and from our past helps us to overcome hedonic adaptation and unhappiness.
  3. Sending a gratitude letter or let a person know in-person that the things you are thankful for have been shown to reduce the hedonic adaptation most and it also increases happiness.
  4. You can always visualize an alternate reality if your parents were different or you have a worse life situation. The alternate worse probabilities were always there. And here you are, in spite of all good and bad events you have progressed significantly in the last 10 years than you would have imagined back then.
  5. Visit social media & e-commerce websites with a purpose. Be aware that you are there to praise others and the beautiful things that are getting created by the innovative human mind. Praise those. But do not desire them if those are not necessary now for your productivity. Praise what you already have.

Have the power of gratitude by your side to reduce the hedonic adaptation and increase your happiness.