From the archives – how to step off the hedonic treadmill
A Life of Virtue: Philosophy as a Way of Life
Republishing this article with edits, as it aligns with similar themes in the Work and Leisure series
As humans we spend most of our lives in a state of perpetual craving and desire. We land a big promotion at work, but soon fantasize about continuing to move up the corporate ladder. We become consumed by discontent and dissatisfaction as we constantly compare our social standing to that of our peers. Wealth, status and power are engrained in our cultural ethos. However, all these pursuits are elusive. The temporary pleasure that we receive from these aims quickly fades as we relentlessly try to fill the void.
Psychologists call this phenomenon the ‘hedonic treadmill’ (also known as the hedonic adaptation). The concept states that despite the events we experience (positive or negative), we always revert back to our ‘baseline’ level of contentment or happiness. While we may feel…
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