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Purpose: To evaluate the implications of the hedonic treadmill.
From fear to joy, no emotion is meant to last. David Myers has said that Every desirable experience–passionate love, spiritual high, the pleasure of a new possession, the exhilaration of success–is transitory.
1. Write a brief review of the concept of sensory adaptation and its emotional parallel in hedonic adaptation and the idea and of a hedonic treadmill.
2. Do you agree and does your own personal experience suggest that the hedonic treadmill is generally correct? That emotionally we go up and down, but not much long-term emotional change results? Discuss and give examples.
3. The idea of a hedonic treadmill suggests that the pursuit of happiness as a desirable and enduring emotional state is rather futile. Whatever happiness we achieve is not likely to last. For purposes of discussion, accept for the moment that the hedonic treadmill is a generally accurate description of our emotional lives and address the following two questions:
A). How might our view of emotions change if we accepted the hedonic treadmill idea? Would we become disillusioned with the transitory nature of happiness? Take comfort in the transitory effects of negative emotions like anxiety, worry, and despair? Make less of a big deal of emotions generally since they are like the weather rainy and sunny days come and go? Adopt a take what comes attitude since nothing last for long anyway? Incorporate events and activities that make us happy into our life planning so they are never in short supply? What ever position you take, support it with arguments and examples.
B). If our life activities and events cannot lead to lasting happiness built on positive emotional experiences, can they lead to something else that is just as or perhaps more desirable? Think about the differences between hedonic and eudaimonic conceptions of happiness. Think about other states such as peace of mind, personal strength, self-confidence, and wisdom in the understanding life. Is there a deeper form of happiness or a state other than happiness that is desirable, can be cultivated and increased, and does last? That is, a state that reflects a good life but allows us to get off the hedonic treadmill? Describe your best guess about what this state might be and support your answer with arguments and examples.
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