Hedonic Adaptation And How to Overcome it

Do you know that what you think will make you happy, in the long term, actually won’t? This is because of hedonic adaptation.

What is Hedonic Adaptation?

Hedonic Adaptation is the scientific name for how our brains adapt to change no matter how good or bad that change is, and long term, our emotions level out to our predetermined “normal”. It’s almost as if that change had never happened.

Earlier this year was the first time I’d ever heard about hedonic adaptation, which considering what it is and how it impacts us all on a very regular basis, I’m surprised why this isn’t a widely known concept!

So if you’re chasing after a promotion, a pay rise, a new house, or a better car, those things might feel good short term, but really don’t make a difference to your long term happiness. Once you’re accustomed to those new things, you’ll just end up wanting more – you’ll want another promotion, even more money, a bigger house, a luxury car.

When does this stop?

It doesn’t!

…unless you put in the work.

This is why I believe it’s so important to prioritise self-development. It’s all well and good to say “…well, I’ll look for happiness from within.”, but how do you actually find happiness from within?! THIS is what my blog is ALL about! Look over anything and everything I’ve ever spoken about and it’ll outline my journey to finding inner happiness, and hopefully give you examples of what you can try to incorporate into your own life to improve your happiness.

But if you’re after the ‘too long, didn’t read’ version of what I’ve been talking about since the inception of this blog, then keep reading!

How to overcome hedonic adaptation

Gratitude

We all roll our eyes at this one (even me!), but I think it’s important to feel gratitude for what you have, instead of concentrating on what you want, which in theory, comes from a place of lack. If you’ve moved into a new apartment, or bought a new car, or have received that promotion, and after one month it feels like the new normal (which it will), feel the gratitude of finally receiving what you wanted. I think leaning into gratitude puts you back into the emotions you were feeling when you first received that apartment/car/job and it’d feel like you’re experiencing it again for the first time.

TIP: Every time you walk into your house or sit in your car, remember what it was like when you thought you would never be able to afford these things, or think about one thing that excites you about it or that you love about it and give thanks.

Mindfulness

Being mindful and savouring an experience, places you firmly in the present and appreciative of what’s happening right in front of you. You’re not rushing, you’re not missing life rolling out before you, you’re not constantly seeking some future experience to fulfil you. Whether it’s a sunset, a new body wash, the moon, a delicious meal – fully immerse yourself in the present moment at least a couple of times a day! Set alarms if you have to!

TIP: Try daily morning meditation to at least experience being present at the most powerful time of the day – as soon as you awake.

Young male appreciating the view of a snowy mountain.

Self-development

I think self-development is arguably the most crucial way to overcome hedonic adaptation because as you learn more about yourself, you learn to understand exactly what lights you up, exactly what you need to work on, and exactly what you need to do to improve your life overall. You develop a healthier and more positive mindset

TIP: Look at overcoming negative beliefs and replacing them with positive beliefs, look at dealing with past trauma, look at understanding what stresses you out the most, look at what you can do to encourage the happiest you possible…

Experiences

Having something to look forward to can often prolong the excitement and happiness of an experience, no to mention the memories are something you’ll have to fondly remember. Enhance these experiences by doing it with someone to encourage deeper connection in a relationship.

TIP: Schedule in at the start of each year/month/quarter things you could do with people either on a regular basis like walks or upcoming irregular events like festivals etc

Money

Spend your money according to your values. Don’t look at buying items thinking that they will enhance your happiness, but look at these items as transitioning yourself into a higher vibe. Don’t look at this as a way to justify every little spend, but really think about whether spending $400 on make-up will have the same affect as spending $400 on a self-development course.

TIP: Check out my previous post about the four ways money has improved my happiness

Looking within to find happiness is all about coming from a place of abundance, working on your weaknesses, and not putting your happiness in people, events, items, or life milestones. I’m no psychologist, but I like to think that in doing these things, your predetermined happiness set point is raised, and it won’t matter whether you have that promotion, pay rise, new house or better car!

If you enjoyed this post, let me know! If you have any questions or thoughts feel free to contact me via email or join me on Instagram as I show more of the behind the scenes of how I’m striving for life success/happiness everyday. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you’re notified of new posts as they go live each week.  

I love you 3000!

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