Hedonic adaptation focuses on happiness and well-being, but there is a tendency for people to return to their established level of happiness despite the ups and downs of life. This is like ending where you started. To better understand hedonic adaptation, we are going to tell you some examples.
Examples of hedonic adaptation
Imagine that you have won the lottery and you feel great excitement at first, but then you will return to your original levels of happiness when the novelty wears off … There are even people who end up being less happy due to changes in relationships. There is a great initial joy that may last for a while, but everyday life will bring you back to the same level of happiness as before you had the lottery.
The same happens, for example, in more serious cases such as when someone has an accident and loses one or both legs. The feelings at first will be devastating, but generally people, once they adjust to the situation, will return to the happy situation of before having suffered the accident and when the period of habituation has passed.
The same can happen when you eat something that you find delicious. The first bites may seem delicious, but if you eat it every day, you will stop feeling that pleasure starting from when you tried it for the first time. People get used to pleasure fairly quickly.
The control you have
Your happiness is under your control … you have 50% control in your happiness. 10% is affected by the circumstances of your life such as the place of birth or your environment. This allows 40% to be subject to your influence. There are activities that are subject to hedonic adaptation: the more happiness something brings you, the faster this feeling dissipates.
Pleasures are delights that have very strong sensory and emotional components. We refer to the sensation of ecstasy, extreme joy, comfort in the face of pleasure … All this involves the thought at a certain moment. Pleasures can improve your mood and make you feel better, but the effects are usually quite fleeting. As if that weren’t enough, people get used to them relatively quickly. If you eat the same thing every day, it may not be as pleasant at the end of the week. Although there are also ways to prolong the pleasure.
Rewards are activities that take us to a state of flux where we do not notice the passage of time because we are absorbed with what we are doing … because we love it! Rewards help us to have a good sense of meaning and are more immune to hedonic adaptation.
But on the other hand, the more you participate in the rewards, the more you enjoy them, you don’t adapt to them if you don’t want more! These are activities that require more effort and reflection, but the payoff is also greater. The more we commit, the more we enjoy. This includes activities that are often considered interests, such as creating art, learning a skill, or even participating in an activity such as meditation. Most, if not all, perks can be great stress relievers.
Knowing that pleasures are short-lived in their effects can make it worth the effort in other activities such as rewards that can bring more lasting results. However, there are reasons why they may be perfect for certain situations. First, they make you feel good without much effort. These types of pleasures can create an “upward spiral of positivity”, and this can lead to greater happiness and resistance to stress. For the little effort they require, this is a pretty big payoff.
Second, gratifications require more effort, so when you only have a few minutes or a very limited amount of energy, pleasures are often the easiest and most accessible option. For example, if you have a stressful day, it is easier to have a good tea and drink it while you have to leave to do something else, and it can momentarily relieve stress . This is easier than pulling out some paint supplies and fine-tuning your art, even if it can benefit you more from the gratification of painting than the pleasure of tea. Sometimes you may only have time for tea, and that’s better than nothing.