By Tshepo Leroy Dube

“The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.” wikipedia.

To understand hedonic treadmill a bit better I’m going to tell you a story, a story that contains a father and son. Daedalus known as one of the greatest architects to ever live in the greek mythology. He was famously known for being the key architect of how Crete looked and designing a spectacular labyrinth for King Minos of Crete. It is said the labyrinth was so cunning that those who entered could not find their way out. The only way out was with a magical clue that would assist you find your way to the nearest exit. One day it is said King Minos imprisoned Daedalus together with his son Icarus. While imprisoned in the tower it is said Daedalus would watch the birds that would fly by and study their aerodynamic ways of flying. This is, where he thought of the idea to craft wings from fallen feathers and wax. By doing this he understood he would be building a risky escape plan for him and his son. It is said that Daedalus spoke to his son Icarus before taking flight, stating to him that they should not fly too high or too low and to follow his lead in order to have a safe journey. As usual Icarus felt the need to not listen to his father, believing he new better and he could reach the sun. It could be said he could have been mesmerised by his feeling of flying, after being in prison for so long. Wishing to go as high as possible in order to reach the sun. It can be said that sun was the only thing besides the birds that Icarus could see, which made him dream about reaching the sun one day escaping, his anxiety could have played a major role in wanting to escape his reflection of earth and reach the sun. By not taking heed to his fathers warning, lead to Icarus’s wax wings melting and his feathers scattering, leading to him falling to his death.

The feeling of not being satisfied with what you have. The feeling of, whatever you may achieve or get is never enough to make you happy, so you constantly wanting more. This also means that people who feel like they need to get to a certain stage in their career or life to be happy, quickly learn that wherever they go they still face problems. The trick is to find happiness/peace irregardless of your circumstances or life situation, understanding that life is meant to be lived through all kinds of problems and that the key is to understand that the worlds filled with ups and downs.  The spirit of Daedalus is a strong key of what we could consider as the hedonic treadmill theory, as you look at his story of how he designed an amazing labyrinth for a king and that same king placed him in prison later on with his son. In prison Daedalus. Daedalus at his lowest could have easily given up but his strong will lead to him designing a master plan for his escape. His son Icarus on the other hand is the example of what happens when you don’t find a balance in your life, this state is known as the Icarus effect.

When you chase your dreams or set goals always make sure to expect the journey of reaching yours goals to have ups and downs, twists and turns, reason being that every goal set or dream chased, comes with challenges that will test your limits and sometimes you will want to give up.

So in closing the key meaning to not only understand, but to take from this thread is that you don’t need a miraculous life in order to be happy, happiness is a state of mind and not a place.

The myth of Daedalus and Icarus

The Hedonic Treadmill: From Consumerism …

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