Have you ever heard of the hedonic treadmill? Neither had I until I started doing some reading into the benefits of practicing appreciation and gratitude.
The hedonic treadmill is a term that originates in positive psychology. It refers to the idea that we all have a baseline level of happiness. Exciting events can make that happiness spike – and maybe exceptionally exciting things make it spike for a while – but, ultimately, we return back to our baseline level. We just keep plugging away riding that treadmill of life. Depressingly, the notion of the hedonic treadmill also posits that we can’t really raise that baseline level. No matter how many joyous things we experience, we return right back to it. Hence, the treadmill.
Good news, guys! Practicing appreciation and gratitude can make a difference. We have the power to boost our baseline. We can live life just a little bit happier! (Cue the sighs of relief)
We’re wired to fall into habits with our ways of thinking. We have to break those habits and take charge of how we think about our day-to-day lives and the world around us.
Changing our cognitive patterns can change our baseline. It may sound cheesy, but try embracing an attitude of gratitude. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Start with a gratitude list. Take some time to write down or type out at least three responses to the following statements:
I am grateful for…
I am fortunate to/because…
This makes me feel…
Put this somewhere you will see it often or carry it with you in your bag. Seeing it will remind you of all you have to be thankful for, and give you a boost!
Then, make it part of your routine to employ your attitude of gratitude. Carve out 3-5 minutes a day to reflect on what you’re grateful for in that specific day. Even on hard days, you’ll find you can be grateful for your resilience and the fact that you’re still standing. There’s always something if you dig deep, and the more often you go through this practice, the easier it will become.
Now, go forth and be grateful!