Did you know that research shows that we are actually poor predictors of what will make us happy?

This is actually one of my favorite pieces of positive psychology, and it is habit number two in my book Successful Women Think Differently. 

We have a brand new edition of the book out for the tenth anniversary of its release, and this week we’re continuing our series talking about the nine habits that make you happier, healthier, and more resilient. 

This week, we are focusing on Habit #2: Get off the hedonic treadmill.

Some fun, but telling research shows that we tend to think we know what is going to make us happy. We pursue whatever that thing is. 

But once we get that thing, we get used to it. It happens to all of us. 

This process of desiring something, obtaining it, enjoying it for a while, then moving on to chase the next thing we think will make us happy is called the hedonic treadmill. 

If we stay on the hedonic treadmill, constantly believing that the next big thing is going to make us happy, we will find ourselves getting nowhere closer to joy. 

Gratitude is a practice that directly counteracts the hedonic treadmill.

Happiness is not found in the next thing, the next accomplishment, the next relationship, or the next purchase. 

Happiness is found when we get clear about our purpose, find ways to serve, savor the moments we are in, and are grateful for what we already have. 

So, if you find yourself on the hedonic treadmill, get off by recognizing that you adapt to continually improving circumstances. The next thing is just going to make you want more. More is not going to make you happier. 

Be grateful for what you already have and happiness will find you. 

Coach Yourself

What is an area of your life where you find yourself on the hedonic treadmill?

What are 5-10 things you are grateful for in that area?

How can you make gratitude an everyday practice?

How will you change your mindset to focus on what you already have rather than what you think will make you happier?