On Happiness and Hedonic Adaptation

On Happiness and Hedonic Adaptation
Photo by Wafer WAN / Unsplash

Hey! After a bit of a hiatus, I’m getting back to writing and wanted to talk a bit about this idea of hedonic adaptation, inspired by this brilliant Wait But Why post.

It’s a Friday night at my house in West Seattle where I’m relaxing after a long, productive, but exhausting week at work. As a product manager, I feel like it’s often my job to be “living in the future”, imagining what our product could be several years down the road and defining that future for teams to build. The problem is that this often seeps into my personal life as an obsession with many possible futures, which can take me away from feeling grateful for the present moment.

I’d by lying if I didn’t admit I often find myself daydreaming about my future living circumstances, whether it’s living in a different city, surrounded by different friends, having different things, and generally living a different life. But interestingly, whenever I’ve gained those things, I often find myself reverting back to my normal level of happiness after the novelty wears off.

The trick, as this post suggests toward the end, is to cultivate a mindset of gratitude for my current life. It’s easy to look up or ahead at the things I don’t have and desire them, but it’s less natural (and probably more important) to look down or backward at the things I have now that I didn’t have in my past: a wonderful house, a fun and learning-filled job, a great partner, financial security. It’s exciting and inspiring to have ambitious aspirations toward the life I could have in the future, but it’s important to also feel a sense of contentment and happiness with what I have in the here and now.

Anyway, just wanted to share the thought and hope that whoever’s reading this takes a moment to look around and appreciate what they have in their own life too.

Happy Friday!