Hedonic Treadmill


This word describes an event or space one can advance or achieve. Something or someone has provided a way for us to improve or obtain something. This is how I understand the meaning. Yet, opportunity can also be found in the most challenging of circumstances. Over the last few days, many of my readings and podcasts have used this word to describe how in adversity grows opportunity to not only grow in our strength, values, and character and also to influence the lives of others.

“This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. ” (Luke 21)

This verse was shared on my Pray as you go app. The word opportunity stuck out to me. How often have you been given the opportunity to testify of goodness, kindness, and His love? How many times have we fretted over our response, yet God says to “make up your minds NOT to prepare?” He provides. I wonder if we pause enough to wait for Him to give us the words? Practice not rushing in, Anna.

Over and over again, I hear the message of showing up for an opportunity. You have the opportunity to show love and your growth in the matter.

As I continue reading in Waymaker, I’m stunned by this sentence, “Pay attention to the problems, and you end up spending your one life on problems.” Ann reminds us to “pay attention to Love Himself, then you are spending your life on Love.” (p. 40)

For me, it’s not the “glass half empty” or “glass half full kind of person,” but what you do with life problems. They are real, in front of your face, and overwhelming. As Ann remarks on a daily practice of attaching ourselves to His love as we walk through the hard, I’m also aware that humans naturally tend to focus on what we can fix, and we spend a lifetime fixing and controlling. We also have memory issues. Ever heard of the term hedonic treadmill?

“The hedonic treadmill (also known as hedonic adaptation) is a theory positing that people repeatedly return to their baseline level of happiness, regardless of what happens to them.”

It’s basically our ability to adapt to our environment. For example, you finally get that promotion. You go out with friends and family to celebrate! You are feeling great, and then you adapt. You may even regret taking the promotion and want more or different. You forget your older self and all the hard work it took you to get to where you are in your current position. You want more. The treadmill. We see this in marriage, home ownership, parenting, vacations, and hardship. We can also adapt to bad news and loss and return to our baseline of happiness over time. We think we will never be happy again after a loss, yet, humans are resilient, and we adapt. It involves the adjustments that include all of the changes that have occurred in us and around us.

Parish and I were reminiscing the other day about our early marriage years. I ponder what I’ve learned, and I realize how I need to practice the following:

“We may be able to escape (or forestall) the effects of the hedonic treadmill with gratitude in the form of “continued appreciation of the original life change” (Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2012, p. 670) and by savoring positive experiences, which has been shown to increase happiness (Jose et al., 2012).].”

Moving towards beauty. Seeing with eyes of gratitude and trust. Attaching to Hesed love. As I lay in bed in a state of prayer, I was overwhelmed with the deep layers of appreciation. Everything from a warm blanket from a friend to the sounds of laughter from Valentina’s friends downstairs who came to visit over college break for Thanksgiving. Savor. Not just list, but savor. Linger on the warmth, the sounds, and the feel of your gifts–cold water to drink, hot water to clean and rejuvenate, and the complexity of a single item in nature that makes up the whole. Do we forget the problems? The suffering? No. They exist at the same time intertwined. We can face our reality with the practice of savoring. I thought of the optimistic closure for one of my work’s learning events coming up. It goes beyond the closure or the quick “do this before you leave.” You want so much for your colleagues and friends to understand the deeper meaning. Do I believe in this practice myself?

I found this podcast and smiled as I listened.

How to Practice Gratitude For Year Round Benefits: Special Episode!

I liked this episode because it had many experts from the field of research sharing their struggles and daily practices.

I’ll close with this line from my book, Waymaker, “The reality is, we are selling our souls to whatever we are paying attention to.” (p. 40)

Today is probably going to have a mixed bag of events for you. You may be in a deep valley of despair. Pay attention to what you are paying attention to. How can you, on purpose, move towards gratitude and savoring and get off the treadmill?

20 minutes later….

I went over to Facebook to add my post. I just found out my Aunt Shirley passed away. God, we ask for your Hesed love on this day. My sweet Shirley with Jesus. We love you.

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