What Hedonic treadmill means

In the event the term hedonic treadmill is new to you, this write up is designed to help you understand what it means in full. It is hoped that by the end of this write up, you would have developed a better understanding of this rather complex idea of hedonic treadmill.

It is hoped that the reader would be better prepared for the future and will be empowered to move ahead with better and deeper understanding of what happiness actually means to enable the individual properly respond to and prepare for both present and future situations and that this can be done with complete peace of mind and clarity of the purpose.

The whole idea of hedonic treadmill has to do with an idea or understanding that level of happiness attainable by a man has to do with the personal experience of that man in question. This means the increase or decrease in the level of happiness attainable is a function of any related experience of that particular person.

The event that led to that happiness or sadness automatically becomes the happiness set point. This is due to the fact that humans are somewhat physiologically adapted to that particular new experience, whatever that particular experience is. This means the situation becomes the new measuring criteria for attainment of happiness for that particular person. Hedonic treadmill has it that happiness notions are adaptable to situations and are somewhat inherent to the underlying reason that led to the situation in question.

Its impact on human life

The term hedonic treadmill first came to be used more than 30 years ago and it was used in one research paper that was titled “Hedonic Relativism and Planing the Good Society”. The purpose of the research work was to discuss happiness tendencies in people and the relative stability of that level of happiness in spite of any positive or negative situation. But the idea of happiness and its responsiveness to events as well as its returning to a defined baseline had been around for quite a while and it has a high level of importance both in the spiritual and philosophical circles.


Some sages are of the opinion that happiness and its pursuit in its entirety is nonsensical and also futile. They tend to link happiness with every other pursuits of the world. They see happiness as temporary and they therefore judge it as being unnecessary and impermanent, claiming that it cannot add to authentic and true sense of fulfilment.

Generally, the term hedonic treadmill has to do with the ability of humans to get back to a stable level of happiness after either a positive or negative experience that could have altered that level of happiness initially.

This hedonic adaptation is a form of mechanism or process that leads to reduction in the impact emotional activities have on humans and enable them to return to the erstwhile level of happiness after such emotional attack. This theory is of the opinion that the happiness set-point will always be constant no matter what could have led to the distortion that could have happened at the initial stage.