Hedonic adaptation is a concept introduced in the 1970s by two psychologists, Brickman and Campbell. This concept was then made simpler by Michael Eysenck in 1971 and took the form of a “wheel of happiness” (hedonic treadmill). According to this theory, each person’s happiness consists of a change between these two fixed points, with the highest level at which they can reach and the lowest level at which they can fall.
Hedonic adaptation refers to the tendency of people to adapt to both good and bad events, and therefore return to the same levels of happiness after a while. Studies, for example, have shown that people who win the lottery are only slightly happier compared to others. After a certain time, these individuals returned to their former levels of happiness.
In the same way, it is known that people who experience negative events such as loss or disease adapt to such situations after a while and their happiness levels reach a level similar to those before these events. In other words, it adapts to the current living conditions of the person’s emotional system. Happiness and unhappiness are short-term reactions to changes in people’s lives. The level of happiness that people get when adapting to life under ordinary or unusual living conditions is actually always in the same cycle.
Hedonic adaptation is part of man’s ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions. Our anger subsides over time, we begin to get used to the pain we experience. Although the daily effects of events continue, our emotions are sort of balanced. We return to the hedonic treadmill in pursuit of other goals, hopes and desires. Bringing past events to an emotional “background” allows us to deal with new events.