In my last blog (Exercise, mental health and ordinary moments) I mentioned how noticing ordinary moments when doing anything can be so ease filled.
Hedonic Adaptation and the Hedonic Treadmill are interchangeable terms for pretty much the same thing, which is, the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.
The term isn’t a new one. It was originally coined in the 1970’s by Philip Brickman and Donald T Campbell.
But what is this thing and what is its relevance to us today?
I can’t imagine that there is anyone on this planet who hasn’t heard of social media. If you know of anyone I’d love to hear how they’ve managed that. You may know of people who choose to not be involved with social media and that’s a whole other thing.
Social media has its great points and its not so great ones. One of the issues that is known about is how discontented we become with ourselves, our lives and how ordinary they appear to be compared to other people.
We compare ourselves to the Instagram accounts or Facebook pages of the people we choose to follow. We then become critical of ourselves and wonder what our place in the world is actually about. We become discontented and disconnected from who we truly be and our contribution to this world, to our families and to ourselves.
What happens when we look at the world through social media is our discontent has us striving for more at the expense of our happiness in the moment. It has been shown that people who win big on the lottery experience a euphoria that over time dwindles and no amount of money makes them any happier than they were before the win, ie, they return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that money isn’t a great thing to have. I believe that money has many uses, one of which is improving quality of life. This doesn’t necessarily equal increase in happiness. There is a whole debate going on as to whether or not you can only be as happy as the genes you were dealt at birth. But, I digress.
So how do we get off the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’, that desire that so many of us have for seeking pleasure and happiness beyond what we have in the here and now?
I for one have learned to be grateful for who I am and what I consider to be my ordinary life. My ordinary life is something that is considered by some people that I’ve met to be extra-ordinary and something that they aspire to. Once I chose to acknowledge this, to acknowledge how different my life could appear to be to someone else I began to have more and more gratitude for it and I began to embrace what to me seemed ordinary.
The more I have done this the more I realise how, for the most part, I have stepped off the Hedonic Treadmill choosing to live my life my way and embracing the ordinary, the understated and the mundane of it all, because actually life is full of moments of joy and I now see these rather than ignoring them as not good enough or plain boring.
Where are you living your life striving, on the hamster wheel of life instead of valuing and thriving as a result of living your ordinary life and loving it?
I’d love to hear from you with any comments, ah-ha moments etc that you may have after reading this post.
With ease and gratitude for my ordinary life and for each of you who reads this ordinary blog.