To overcome the hedonistic treadmill, be grateful. It is that simple and that hard.
What is the hedonistic treadmill?
In simplest terms, the hedonistic treadmill is idea that humans each have a baseline level of happiness. No matter what happens in your life, you will eventually return to this baseline.
A lot research has been done showing that after winning the lottery or being involved a horrendous accident, people tend to return to the level of happiness they had before the major event. The surprising part is that it doesn’t matter if the event was positive or negative, people return to their baseline level of satisfaction.
If we all return to our baseline, then what’s the point? How to we fight back against the treadmill?
Why does practicing gratitude help us step off the hedonistic treadmill? Because practicing gratitude does not allow you to be indifferent to the good things in your life.
It’s impossible to be grateful and indifferent to the same thing. Once you have acknowledged that something is a gift and something to be thankful for, you are immediately happier about it.
By practicing enough, I believe that you can raise your baseline.
How to Cultivate a Grateful Mindset?
- Keep a gratitude journal.
Start each day or end each day by writing down 1–5 things that are good in your life. Bonus points if you can acknowledge the contribution of someone else that has helped you achieve it.
The writing doesn’t need to be long or in-depth. Coming up with the things to be grateful for, while keeping in mind that it doesn’t need to be physical objects, is the most important part of this exercise.
2. Meditate on Gratitude
If writing or keeping a journal just isn’t your thing, then simply spend a few minutes in quiet reflection thinking about the things you are grateful for. Although I personally prefer writing because it can be fun to look back at things I was grateful for on prior days, I realize that not everyone needs that.
3. Thank People
Throughout the day, make an effort to say thank you more often than normal. Please will appreciate being acknowledged which will strength your relationships, but it also changes your mindset if you are constantly looking for ways that people have contributed to your existence.
4. Practice Giving
The more you practice giving to other people, the more you become aware of gifts you are given.