Weekend Reading: How to Escape the Hedonic Treadmill

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
Weekend reading escape the hedonic treadmill Weekend reading escape the hedonic treadmill
Weekend Reading

Your natural inclination to chase happiness is what also prompts you to want to improve yourself; whether that’s a promotion, running a 5k or completing a big project. However, once you reach your end goal, the euphoria eventually subsides, and you quickly return to your baseline level of happiness.


Living on autopilot: The constant cycle of always looking toward the next thing, completing it, then moving onto the next is what’s known as being on the “hedonic treadmill”. Here, you never truly feel satisfied, but with the right strategies, you can make your escape. They include:

📌 Instead of the destination, enjoy the journey: As author Vinita Bansal says, “Pleasure is in progress and not in getting what we want.” Instead of delaying happiness to a later stage (your end-goal), allow yourself to enjoy where you’re at in the present moment.

📌 Instead of what you don’t have, express gratitude for what you do: Rather than saying, “I’ll be happy when…”, reframe your mindset to, “I’m happy with…” Focusing on what you’re grateful for puts you in a place of abundance.

📌 Instead of what, start with why: Pursuing your “what” does not add meaning to your life, but your “why” (your Purpose) allows you to live with intention.

Your life is not meant to be measured by accomplishments and hard work, but a life full of experiences that you may never have if you are always looking for that next thing.