Elizabeth Scott, MS, is a wellness coach specializing in găng tay management và chất lượng of life, và the author of "8 Keys to lớn Stress Management."

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in weight management & eating behaviors. 


Hedonic adaptation, also known as “the hedonic treadmill,” is a concept studied by positive sầu psychology researchers và others who focus on happiness and well-being thatrefers to lớn people’s general tendency khổng lồ return khổng lồ a set màn chơi of happiness despite life’s ups và downs.

Hedonic adaptation is often referred to lớn as “the hedonic treadmill” because we always over up where we started.

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There are several different ways that hedonic adaptation has been observed, và here are a few interesting examples:

The same is true for those who are in major accidents và đại bại the use of their legs. The change in ability can be devastating at first, but people generally tkết thúc to return to lớn their pre-accident levels of happiness after the habituation period.

A Question of Control

Many researchers have sầu examined the hedonic treadmill phenomenon & have sầu attempted khổng lồ determine how much of our happiness is really under our control. Researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky has examined this set-point & come up with a specific percentage: 40 percent.

A full 50% of our happiness set-point, her research determined, is due to genetics, while 10% is affected primarily by circumstances lượt thích where we were born & lớn whom. This leaves 40% that is subject to our influence.

Other researchers have come up with slightly different numbers, but all have sầu been roughly in this ballpark.

The Hedonic Treadmill

Certain activities are more subject lớn hedonic adaptation—the happiness that they bring dissipates more quickly. Some of these activities are known by researchers và psychologists as “pleasures,” which can bring quichồng bursts of—you guessed it—pleasure, which can also lead lớn longer-term happiness.

"The pleasuresare delights that have clear sensory and svào emotional components, what philosophers điện thoại tư vấn "raw feels": ecstasy, thrills…delight, mirth, exuberance, and comfort. They are evanescent, và they involve little, if any, thinking."

These pleasures can lift your mood and leave you feeling wonderful, but their effects can be relatively fleeting. What’s more, we get used lớn them relatively quickly.

If you have sầu the same meal every day for a week, for example, you"ll likely find it lớn be less pleasurable by the end of the week. This is true for roller-coaster rides, fresh flowers, drinking tea, listening khổng lồ a favorite tuy vậy, watching videos of adorable animals, & many other pleasures. However, there are ways khổng lồ prolong the enjoyment of life’s pleasures, and they’re well worth including in your life.


Seligman also researched gratifications, which are activities that get us inkhổng lồ a feeling of “flow” where we don’t notice the passage of time, where we’re thoroughly engaged in what we’re doing, and sort of lost in the activity.

This effect occurs most easily when we face a challenge that’s both fun and the right kind of challenge for our abilities: not too difficult lest we feel discouraged but just difficult enough khổng lồ keep us feeling challenged. Gratifications, as well as activities that present a strong sense of meaning to lớn us, are more immune to the effects of hedonic adaptation.

These are activities that require more effort và thought, but the payoff is higher as well. The more we engage, the more we enjoy. Gratifications include activities that are often thought of as hobbies, lượt thích creating art, learning a skill like karate, or even engaging in an activity lượt thích meditation. Most, if not all, gratifications can be great bức xúc relievers.

Pleasures vs. Gratifications

Knowing that pleasures are fleeting in their effects may make them seem less worth the effort than other activities like gratifications that can bring more lasting results. There are reasons why they can be perfect for certain situations.

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First, as mentioned earlier, they bring a quick lift in mood without a great khuyễn mãi giảm giá of effort. This mood boost is actually quite valuable because there is significant research that shows that a lift in mood can lead to lớn a chain reaction of positive feelings & increased resilience.

Basically, pleasures can create an "upward spiral of positivity," & this can lead to greater happiness & resilience khổng lồ bít tất tay. For the little effort they require, this is a pretty big payoff.

Second, gratifications vày take more effort, so when you only have sầu a few minutes or a very limited amount of energy, pleasures are often the simpler và more accessible option. For example, if you’re running errands and feeling stressed, it’s often easier khổng lồ drink some nice tea as you rush (which can be pleasant & diminish stress) than getting out some painting supplies và honing your craft.

Even if you may benefit more from the gratification of painting than the pleasure of tea, sometimes you may only have sầu time for tea. That’s certainly better than nothing.


Meaningful activities like volunteering for a good cause or helping a friend, incidentally, seem to lớn carry great benefits as well. Seligman found that these may take a significant amount of energy and may not always be enjoyable while a person is engaged in them (they can be challenging), but they bring lasting results in terms of overall happiness và inner peace.

Altruism really does have many benefits khổng lồ the giver as well as the recipients. Meaningful acts should not be overlooked, particularly because they seem lớn transckết thúc the hedonic treadmill quite effectively.

Minimize Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic adaptation is a fact of life, but when we are aware of how it works and how it functions in our lives, we are more able to lớn work around the negatives và engage in activities that are more immune to lớn the stifling effects of the hedonic treadmill.

The following are some ways in which you can move sầu away from the limiting effects of hedonic adaptation and engage in activities that can actually create a greater màn chơi of happiness in your life:

Be sure your life includes several pleasures, và try to lớn plan for them throughout your day. Get that cup of coffee. call that friend for a quichồng laugh. If you feel you don’t have time for too many of these pleasures, alặng to organize your time with the specific intention of including them.Rotate your pleasures so that they always feel new. Just as fresh sheets feel more wonderful than your week-old sheets, a rotation of pleasures is more enjoyable than the same ones for days in a row. (This may be different if you enjoy the ritual of certain activities, but it’s generally true. When you become slightly bored with your pleasures begin to lớn vary them.)Be sure you make time for hobbies. If you plan a class once a week, this is one of the most effective ways to lớn benefit from gratifications. You’re sharing what you enjoy with others, you’re putting it on your calendar so you’re more likely lớn make time for it, & you’re able khổng lồ deepen your abilities and watch yourself grow.It doesn’t really matter what the hobby is. As long as it’s one that you enjoy, you’ll benefit from it, và these benefits will extend inkhổng lồ the rest of your life.
Find time for others. This creates greater meaning in your life, và that can create greater happiness. Just as gratifications can work outside of the hedonic treadmill & help you increase your overall levels of happiness, meaningful activities can create these changes as well.Keep a journal. One way lớn maximize the impact of your positive experiences is to write down the things you enjoyed that day. Alặng for three a day. You"ll be reliving these positive experiences as you write about them, and can relive them again when you read through your journal.
Keep an eye on your happiness levels. If you feel that you could be happier, make time for whatever you can do to lớn lift your mood. Do what makes you happy and/or try something new.

A Word From Verywell

Hedonic adaptation—that old hedonic treadmill that we"re all on—is part of us (& it keeps us grounded) but we can still increase our happiness set point by working pleasures, gratifications, and meaningful activities into lớn our lives by engaging in the right activities at the right time.

If you’re someone who is naturally happy, this focus on the positive sầu can help you khổng lồ feel happier than you would. If you’re someone who’s naturally less happy or who faces a lot of challenges, this extra attention khổng lồ minimizing hedonic adaptation can help you to lớn live a more fulfilling life.