Have you ever heard of the phrase “hedonic adaptation?” Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:
Hedonic adaptation is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.
This idea is probably one of the most important and unintuitive parts of our psychology. The Wait But Why article (link below) is a good reminder of the power and cruelty of hedonic adaptation.
I’ve been thinking about the concept this week because midterms are going on. I can feel the tension on campus surrounding these tests. I try to think about two things when I am worried about an exam:
- Action is the antidote to anxiety. So, if we had the exam today, which topics would I be most uncomfortable with?
- Even if this doesn’t go well, it will not impact my long-term happiness. (This is what hedonic adaptation is.)
The concept is relevant to everything from exams to applying to a job to finding a short-term place to live.
What do you think of “hedonic adaptation?”
Have a great week!