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The Benchmark of Your Happiness When You Achieve Something Is the Same as Losing a Huge Amount of Money


Is it unrealistic for you if I say that after a short time, the benchmark of your happiness when you achieve something aspiring to it is the same as losing a huge amount of money ?

I know that you get astonished after reading this title but, if you have heard about Hedonic adaption before, you will recognize that my utterance is reliable. In this article, I will discuss:

  • Hedonic treadmill
  • Set point of happiness and study related to it
  • Theory of arrival fallacy
  • Studies related to hedonic adaptation
  • How to curb the effect of hedonic adaption

Happiness Is A Golden Jewel That Everyone Longed For But Nobody Has More Than That Is Determined

All of us are brimful of interest in the matter of awaiting salvation from all emotions like anguish, fear, sorrow, melancholy,escaping sadness and gloom cast over us and bringing the right sort of happiness.

We want more contentment, less distress, more smiling, less gloom, more rejoice, less grief. So, we trace all the paths to find happiness:the path of grinding our bones into unsatisfied dust ,the path of purchase things like car, clothes, the path of travelling abroad and the path of achievement what we aspire to. Then, we work hard for a long time. After that, the big day finally comes: our dreams become reality and we seem to conquer the world. Thus, we move to another zenith period of spike in happiness, pleasure,rapture, jubliance and ecstasy.

But despite all the effort we made to become in a higher level of happiness, this initial spike in happiness enjoying it starts to fade gradually, all the emotions of excitement, joy, pleasure wear off and we return to the normal.baseline level of happiness.

Truth to say, after we return to our normal baseline level of happiness, we become disillusioned and as a result, we start to strive for new goal to return to the same flavour of happiness influx. But unfortunately, our yearning to achieve goals becomes a drug dose that we search for to reach to the spike in happiness. This due to Hedonic Adaption which tells us that "I cannot offer you higher level of happiness than normal set point level of happiness."


What Is Hedonic Treadmill Or Hedonic Adaption?

The first use of the word "Hedonic treadmill" was well over 30 years ago in a research paper entitled " Hedonic Relativism and planning the good " discussing the tendency of a person to remain at a stable level of happiness despite of external positive or negative events.

Arrival Fallacy

Tal Ben Shahar in his book Happier explains an important phrase called "arrival fallacy" which means that when you arrive at certain destination, you will be blissfully happy. It is a fallacy as arriving rarely makes you as happy as you expect. In fact, it is good to set meaningful goals and stretch yourself. But, that should only be part of your happiness equation, not all of it. Nietzche explained it: "the end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, "if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal."

Why We Can't Make Happiness Last For A Long Time

Sheldon and Sonja argue that hedonic adaption occurs due to a major reason: the adaption of glorious achieved goals until they become a routine in our life. In all honesty, when you attain a positive achievement, your enthusiasm and thrill generated from this achievement lead to positive events and your happiness starts to increase for a short of time, but over a time you get accustomed to all these positive changes and after a while, you just don't notice them anymore. You start to miss the glorious spectacle of all these achievements and your first suspense and thrill wear off. As a result, you return to the normal level of happiness.

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What Is Hedonic Set Point?

In psychology, a hedonic set point is the general baseline level of happiness a person experiences over times, despite any temporary changes in the level from positive or negative emotions exposed to them. Your achieved goals may make influx in happiness but, as soon as times goes up, your feeling of happiness starts to dissipate and finally you return to the normal level of happiness.

Researcher Sonja lyubomirsky has examined set point of happiness and come up with results assuring that 50 % of our happiness set point is due to genetics, 40%of our happiness is determined by our actions, thoughts, and attitudes and the final 10% is determined by external circumstances.

There are many studies and empirical researches illustrating the stability of the happiness's rate in both negative and positive changes.The first study is carried by researchers of stockholm university and Newyork university on the winners of the lottery. They studied 3.362 winners of lotteries ' jackpot who totally gained $277 million. Then, they raised some questions on them to measure their level of happiness, their inner satisfaction about themselves and mental health. These questions may be resolved into the following:synopsis:

  • What about rapture and ecstasy passing through you after winning these mega millions ?
  • Does serenity and satisfaction streaming into your heart increases after receiving this prize?

I know all of us have a leap of faith and an entrenched belief that winning this mega millions would make them in influx of happiness and jubilance, but the horrible fact is that they can't feel noticeable change in their day to day happiness. They have stability in their level of happiness. On the other hand, this newfound wealth has a great impact on overall satisfaction and financial satisfaction. The final result suggested by Robert Ostling is " it is more difficult to affect happiness than life satisfaction. "

Another research by Brickman and campbell 's original research ( 1971). This research studies the impact of the Hedonic adaptation on two different groups of people:The first group was the people who were awarded lottery prizes and the other was a group of accident victims who were now paralyzed.The results revealed that in the long term, both of the two groups enjoy the same level of happiness.

Ways To Gain Happiness And Minimize The Effects of Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic adaptation is fact and an existed part in our bodies who has a negative impact on us, but this doesn't mean that it has a strong domination over us. Truth to say, with the deep study of its work and function's mechanism, we are able to reduce its negative part over us. Sheldon and Lyu bomirsky found in a recent study that two anti adaptations were effective in sustaining gains in happiness over time.These two elements are:

  • variety

It is a main pillar in our life to break this boring routine of our life making us feel blues. Changes that are experienced in a variety of ways are more likely to lead to lasting happiness. So, you will be happier when you reduce your mechanisms of making the same things making you happiness fade. In all honesty, happiness streams inside you when you do new things like visiting your relatives instead of staying all the time in your home, spending your leisure time in practising a hobby instead of wasting it in vain and spending money on helping poor people.

  • Practicing gratitude towards the precious treasures you have

Appreciate and pay attention to your achievements and your acquired qualities. Try to savor all these things and experience gratitude towards them. In fact, when we concentrate on these positive changes and turn our minds eye towards them again and again we acquire happiness and joy.


© 2022 Nariman Ismail

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