The Perpetual Pursuit of Happiness
and will we ever feel satisfied?
From our very own conceptions to our deaths, most of us have been chasing more pleasure and happiness. Remember the excitement you felt when you received your latest LEGO set as a birthday gift, the sense of accomplishment when you got a promotion at work, or even the recent thrill of intimacy with your significant other? Right now, do you fantasize about how happy you would become if you could do these? If you did have one of these experiences, you might have noticed that the temporary ‘happiness spike’ didn’t last that long or wasn’t as amazing as you anticipated. Most of us are in this incessant loop of looking for the next stimulus to boost our level of happiness.
The above phenomenon is the hedonic treadmill, also known as the hedonic adaptation. It is a theory suggesting people’s tendency to return to a baseline level of happiness regardless of positive or negative change.
Psychology shows that everyone has an inherent set point of happiness, which accounts for 50% of our differences in happiness across individuals.
We should do things that entirely raise our hedonic setpoint of happiness, rather than seeking the next elusive, ephemeral boost in happiness derived from endless parties, pornography, alcohol etc. It’s about finding the inner peace and being content with what you have.
Happiness is never a pursuit. It’s the serenity and equanimity that one can attain in the perilous vortex of life.