Why Can't I Maintain My "Happiness High"??

Remember a time when buying a new car, or getting a job you really wanted, or moving into the perfect house was just a far-off dream? Does something like, “if I can just land this promotion & earn more money, I’ll be SO happy!” or “if I can just meet the right person, everything will fall into place!” sound familiar?

If you finally attained one of these things, you may have found that the “happiness boost” didn’t last that long or wasn’t as intense as you’d imagined. Most of us have gone through this cycle, and guess what? There’s even a name and a theory behind it!

The hedonic treadmill (aka hedonic adaptation) is a theory asserting that people repeatedly return to their baseline level of happiness, regardless of what happens to them. Basically, we’re SUPER stoked when we get a new car, then we return to our set point of happiness when the car isn’t new anymore and habituation kicks in.

Happiness Set Point

Studies have shown that our circumstances don’t account for most of our happiness. Each person has a happiness set point, which refers to one’s genetically determined predisposition for happiness. This set point for happiness is responsible for about 50% of the differences in happiness from person to person.

One great thing about hedonic adaptation is the flip side: when we go through something terrible and feel like we’ll never be happy again, as time goes by we still tend to return back to our baseline level of happiness!

Differences in Happiness

Optimistic people have an inherently positive nature: they seem predisposed to look on the bright side of things, and also seem to be much happier than others. A person’s definition of an event, their interpretation of that event, and their response to that event (e.g. responding with a sense of humor, constantly mulling it over in their mind, responding with a pessimistic view etc.) can have a big impact on their outlook. Happy individuals can evaluate events (especially negative ones) in positive and productive ways. Unhappy individuals tend to dwell on the negative aspects of events, find things that are “wrong” about positive events, or ruminate on how things were better before.

Here’s the thing with hedonic adaptation as it applies to physical appearance:

“If I can just lose this last bit of belly fat/get more shredded/clear up my skin/, I’ll be SO happy and life will be rainbows and unicorns and kittens and everything perfect!”


Yeah, no. That’s not how it works. Know what really happens? Either your happiness remains in the future, waiting for you to reach that “if…then,” or you DO lose that belly fat, feel ecstatically happy for a while, return to your baseline level of happiness, and start thinking, “now IF I can just tone up my tummy, THEN I’ll REALLY be happy.”

Setting goals in order to be the healthiest, best version of ourselves is important, but feeling happy with who we are shouldn’t rest on achieving those goals. The joy is in the journey! CHOOSE to be happy with where you’re at right now. CHOOSE to be happy as you make progress and move steadily towards achieving your goals! You are enough. It’s ridiculous how enough you are, RIGHT NOW! Be happy with where you're at right this very moment.

Appreciate what you have NOW, to make sure you appreciate what you'll have in the future.

Have faith that things will work out, and remember that the Lord loves you exactly as you are, and exactly where you’re at!

What are your experiences with the hedonic treadmill? Do you think that people can change their set point of happiness?

"Happiness isn't having what you want, it's wanting what you have."

Love you, beautiful soul! 💕🤗

A x

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