23 November 2022

The Hedonic Treadmill

Can you remember the last time you were dreaming of buying a new car, getting a promotion at work, moving into a nicer house or finding a partner to share life with? Do you remember fantasizing about how happy you would be if you attained those things? If you finally did attain one of those things, you may have found that the “happiness boost” didn’t last that long or wasn’t as intense as you’d imagined. Most of us have gone through this cycle. The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is a theory positing that people repeatedly return to their baseline level of happiness, regardless of what happens to them.

I think that happiness is best defined as the feeling of making progress towards your goals, not achieving them but making progress towards them. This means having some well thought out goals, e.g. building health and fitness, building better social relationships, setting specific challenges and living by a set of values (integrity, authenticity, respect and compassion for others and yourself, excellence and commitment, courage, personal responsibility, optimism and gratitude).