Legitimacy Of Happiness To Evaluate Societies’ Performances: Hedonic Treadmill/ Adaptation Theory

1412 words - 6 pages

In addition to Diener and his colleagues, Sheldon and Lyubomirsky recommend the use of variety and appreciation to resolve the limits of the hedonic adaptation theory. In testing the hedonic adaptation prevention model, Sheldon and Lyubomirsky address two main reasons why happiness cannot last. First, as individuals get used to all the positive events that occurred as result of the initial positive change, they just don’t notice them anymore and gradually fewer and fewer positive events are experienced (Sheldon, pg. 672). Hence, with fewer positive events, fewer positive emotions are generated, and one’s newfound well-being cannot be sustained. Second, even with the continuation of positive events, the change begins to simply be seen as the new normal (Sheldon, pg. 672). This shifts one’s aspiration level and induces the feeling and urge to look even better. Daniel Kahneman refers to this as a kind of “satisfaction (aspiration) treadmill.” Because people continuously shift their standards upward once they’ve reached them, they have got to continue running in order to feel satisfied again (David et al., pg. 907). In response to these problems of maintaining happiness or slowing down the adaptation process, variety and appreciation are recommended. When facing repetitive positive experiences, individuals do not get the same kick out of them, as they know exactly what to expect from those experiences (Lyubomirsky, pg. 209). Hence, by experiencing positive changes in a variety of ways, people do not get “used to” positive events as they remain novel or unexpected (Lyubomirsky, pg. 208). For example, after getting married, one will be happier with one’s new spouse by spending time doing new things together instead of being stuck in a mundane routine (Lyubomirsky, pg. 209). Likewise, one will be happier tacking new tasks and challenges after getting a new job instead of executing the same day-to-day tasks. Hence, the happiness one gets from doing anything will fade if done in the same way every day (Lyubomirsky, pg. 209). As with appreciation, based on the Sustainable Happiness Model in which genetics accounted for 50%, circumstances 10%, and activities 40% of the variance in SWB, Sheldon and Lyubomirsky deemed the activities category as the best potential route for sustainably increasing one’s SWB and resist erosion by hedonic adaptation (David et al., pg. 903). Thus, by going out of one’s way to focus on something (appreciating it) instead of taking it for granted or letting it fade into the background, one can turn one’s mind’s eye toward the positive event again and again (David et al., pg. 904). This will allow for the happiness generated by that event to remain longer and induce even further happiness. Hence, in this way, gains in happiness can be sustained over time without be slowed by the adaptation process.
Similar to Sheldon and Lyubomirsky, Fredrickson and others suggest using the Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM), which lies within the...

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