‘Hedonic adaption’: The thing keeping us from achieving lasting happiness

Sheryl Nadler
Shine On
May 15, 2012

If you've ever believed that getting that job promotion, a date with that hottie behind the counter at Starbucks, or a new home will make you happy, you might be in for a rude awakening.

Researchers say a quick fix isn't going to cut it. The secret, apparently, is in appreciating what you already have, thereby maintaining that happiness high over a longer period of time.

According to a recent study in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, "hedonic adaptation" happens when the novelty of a new job, romance, purchase, what have you, gradually wears off and we look for something new to replace the original — a new job, a new romance, a new home.

Also see: The pursuit of happiness can make you less happy, say researchers

"In a 12-week study of nearly 500 adults, hedonic adaptation was prevented when people showed continued appreciation of the benefits of the change that first made them happy and continued to derive a variety of experiences related to that original event," reports a Vancouver Sun story.

Participants in the study were quizzed at three different intervals — at the beginning, after six weeks and at the end of the 12-week period.

Those who were no longer appreciative of what had brought them happiness at the beginning of the study, and who were already looking toward to something better, were less satisfied and happy at the end of the 12-week period than those who still found joy in the original experience.

Also see: Humility and helpfulness go hand-in-hand, study shows

The Vancouver Sun story explains the result with this potential scenario: "For example, after losing weight, these continuing experiences could include the joy of fitting into smaller clothes, receiving positive social attention, having greater stamina, feeling emboldened to run a marathon, testing the dating scene or taking dance lessons"

Perhaps Stephen Sills said it best: Love the one you're with.

Watch the video below about the self-massage everyone should be doing.

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