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The Hamster Wheel of Happiness versus the Hedonic treadmill

Like a hamster is made for a wheel,humans are made to be active to maintain happiness.

But what Hamster is made for a wheel?

They only run round and round because somebody put them in a cage.

Many humans are also encaged, running on a different wheel, either running to or from happiness -the result is the same. Through travelling we never arrive.

Is there a different choice? A way of being happy recognising that we don't need to have a destination to create happiness?

It has been observed that regardless of successes or failures in life, an individual returns to a standard level of happiness. The economic term for this is the hedonic treadmill. Modified by Micaheal Eysenck, into hedonic treadmill theory, how a person success in life only gives a fleeting gain to happiness. The happiness soon returns to normal levels.
But wait.
The idea of happiness returning to normal after either a good or bad event, surely involves an element of being stationary.
We are not walking to stay in the same place for our happiness, our happiness finds a stationary level regardless of what we do.
So I'm putting forward that a more realistic idea to demonstrate our happiness is this :
The hamster wheel.

Regardless of how we run, how much effort we put in,our happiness increases only temporarily. We soon return to our standard individual level of happiness.

If our happiness is measured on a hedonic treadmill what happens if we stop walking?

We fall off.

Yet the hedonic adaptation the theory tries to illustrate shows us how people's expectations and desires rise together , so that no matter how hard you try your happiness level does not change permanently.

For the standard individual level of happiness, no movement is needed. This isn't effectively represented by the hedonic treadmill.

Knowing this, can we increase our happiness?

By standing still,effectively managing our expectations, by understanding our happiness as being like a wheel?


Ye suffer from yourselves.
None else compels, None other holds you that ye live and die,
And whirl upon the wheel, and hug and kiss Its spokes of agony,
Its tire of tears, its nave of nothingness.
Sir Edwin Arnold.

If economics is about accurately tracking human activity to label and predict, it is easy to see how walking was the initial metaphor used to describe hedonic adaptation. An economist is used to thinking in terms of human movement.
What happens if I want to sit down and NOT have a cup of tea?

That's right. I'm not buying anything.

Ok. Mr Smarty Pants, it's not my seat either.

Is it not better for our own personal happiness to think of being stationary?

Happiness is something we create in our minds as the famous poem by Helen Steiner Rice goes, it's not something we search for and so seldom find.

We are on a hamster wheel of happiness. Fooled into running for more ,never actually gaining ground.

Trying to catch the empty promises of modern Life.

If I define my own happiness as like a hamster wheel, what happens?

I stop running.

Instead of trying to catch happiness, happiness may catch up to me.




Excerpt from Wikipedia about hedonic adaptation :

The hedonic treadmill, also known as 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.[1] According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. Brickman and Campbell coined the term in their essay "Hedonic Relativism and Planning the Good Society" (1971).[2] During the late 1990s, the concept was modified by Michael Eysenck, a British psychologist, to become the current "hedonic treadmill theory" which compares the pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill, who has to keep walking just to stay in the same place.[citation needed] The concept dates back centuries, to such writers as St. Augustine, cited in Robert Burton's 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy: "A true saying it is, Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill."[improper synthesis?]

The hedonic (or happiness) set point has gained interest throughout the field of positive psychology where it has been developed and revised further.[3] Given that hedonic adaptation generally demonstrates that a person's long-term happiness is not significantly affected by otherwise impacting events, positive psychology has concerned itself with the discovery of things that can lead to lasting changes in happiness levels.
Hedonic treadmill - Wikipedia


Happiness is something we create in our mind,

it’s not something you search for and seldom find.

It’s just waking up and beginning the day,

by counting our blessings and kneeling to pray.

It’s giving up thoughts that breed discontent,

and accepting what comes as a gift “heaven-sent”.

It’s giving up whining for things we have not.

It’s knowing that life is determined for us,

and pursuing our tasks

without fret, fume or fuss.

For it’s by completing

what God gives us to do,

that we find real contentment,

and happiness too.

Helen Steiner Rice
( Helen Steiner Rice - Wikipedia)

Comments

Fascinating thoughts! I think that one of the biggest pitfalls humans fall into when they experience any kind of emotional trauma is immediately doing what they can to get out of that pain or distract themselves from that pain or replace their pain with something else less painful. This is a natural defense mechanism, of course. But we have the ability to choose to sit in that pain, experience it, and then let it naturally dissipate. In this way, it seems like there is a parallel in day-to-day life where people are becoming simply unable to sit in their existence, even for a few minutes. Every moment of the day is concerned with a different time, in the past or future, and never with the present day. People constantly need distraction and entertainment. It is painful to sit and contemplate their existence, perhaps even terrifying, because all of the things they thought they were living for are actually empty.

At the same time, I believe there is a two-step process that, at least, has held true for me. It is not enough to just "stop" "moving" for a moment. This works to settle the dust, but afterwards, I do feel that it is somewhere ingrained deeply into my nature as a human being to "be" "moving." In whatever way--it almost doesn't seem to matter. Once I've sat in my existence for a while, I usually receive great urges to create something. So the natural line of thought for me is that it is not only an instinct to move, it is an instinct to create, for good or ill, as they say.
 
In response see to ECM 2018


An interesting first post ECM.
An old zen quote rhymes with this 'if you want to escape the heat of the kitchen go right into the center of the fire - linking to your first sentence about avoiding pain. Modern speak, I guess, would say we process the pain.
Striking a balance between movement and rest - "being" and "doing" but I think what is important is to recognise that process consciously . Thus giving the act of rest or processing pain deeper meaning which can then be transferred to other "moving" part of our lives.
Great contribution.
 
Fascinating thoughts! I think that one of the biggest pitfalls humans fall into when they experience any kind of emotional trauma is immediately doing what they can to get out of that pain or distract themselves from that pain or replace their pain with something else less painful. This is a natural defense mechanism, of course. But we have the ability to choose to sit in that pain, experience it, and then let it naturally dissipate. In this way, it seems like there is a parallel in day-to-day life where people are becoming simply unable to sit in their existence, even for a few minutes. Every moment of the day is concerned with a different time, in the past or future, and never with the present day. People constantly need distraction and entertainment. It is painful to sit and contemplate their existence, perhaps even terrifying, because all of the things they thought they were living for are actually empty.

At the same time, I believe there is a two-step process that, at least, has held true for me. It is not enough to just "stop" "moving" for a moment. This works to settle the dust, but afterwards, I do feel that it is somewhere ingrained deeply into my nature as a human being to "be" "moving." In whatever way--it almost doesn't seem to matter. Once I've sat in my existence for a while, I usually receive great urges to create something. So the natural line of thought for me is that it is not only an instinct to move, it is an instinct to create, for good or ill, as they say.
My reply has appeared above you :)
 

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