Imo: a lot of nice anecdotes & empirical results.
But the lit has many problems.
Below, I’ll summarize a 🔑 conceptual-flaw, a bundle of methodological-flaws, and a few perverse-incentives at play.
The lit nicely documents 😀 returns to baseline after some time. Almost regardless of improvements/decrements in material circumstances.
(And baseline seems to be largely genetically determined.)
What Santos focuses on in her 1st 2 episodes.
What Gilbert focuses on in his book.
Namely, success and failures don’t really matter. Cause we adjust. Working hard, making 💰, isn’t worthwhile b/c it won’t matter in the end.
Gotta answer that before we start thinking about how to take advantage of this fact.
Some tricks we play on our own minds, like explaining away our relationship failures, to make ourselves happier.
And we are also bad at simulating & anticipating this.
Making me quite skeptical of that interpretation.
Namely, we adapt to circumstances, because we need to be *motivated* to *change* circumstances, regardless of how good or bad our current circumstances are.
Not because this is our best way to exploit our mental machinery for our own happiness.
But because that’s the optimal way to design the hedonic machinery. The best way to motivate “good” behavior.
Don’t try so hard. Or worry so much. You will revert to baseline, either way.
Working overtime for that promotion? Why bother. Worrying endlessly about never finding a life-partner. Meh. Neither will effect your steady state.
(And this is the 🔑 to my argument.)
If hedonics *just* come from *shifts* relative to expectations.
Improving our circumstances (by gaining real success and long term changes) is *the best we can* do to improve lifetime hedonic experiences.
And the downward spikes when circumstances worsen are the worst feelings life has to offer.
But that’s true, *by design*.
The best we can do therefore is to improve those moments between being at baseline.
Which, perhaps, can only be done by actually improving circumstances and avoiding worsening circumstances.
Now onto my methodological criticism...
My methods concerns revolve around this.
(See 👇 🧵for thorough discussion of this oft seen problem in social-science research, along w/ other prominent examples: )
So just sees the costs. And not the benefits. Of “over” working.
So, again, just see the costs, not the benefit, of “over” working.
And the highly rewarding sense of meaning that comes w/, but only when we sit back and 🤔.
Again, a benefit of over-working over-looked by existing methods.
Things we, even if we can afford them, spend few of our waking moments consuming.
But people obviously *also* enjoy cheating.
Cause it risks ruining those hugely valuable relationships.
But is it? Hard to say, given that the benefits of cheating are hedonic spikes, missed by current methods.
That might be biasing which research gets pursued, which arguments make it to the fore, or which wholes in the argument get overlooked.
But don’t require the hard work needed to actually improve circumstances.
And, all else equal, prefers to get away w/ as little hard thinking as required.
1) 🔑conceptual flaw:
Hedonic adaptation doesn’t imply we shouldn’t bother.
An evolutionary 👁 would have seen this.
B/c, by design, chasing the interim spikes, btwn our “adapting,” is basically the best we can hope for, and can only really be got by real gains.
Well-being measures oft document cons but miss pros.
Like the things 💵 helps you do, the rare but potent pleasures status, legacies, and consumables offer.
Leading to more unfounded advice.
We are all motivated to oversell our work, to not bother w/ tough conceptual and methodological issues, and to sell easy, impactful and socially-desirable practical implications.
Helping motivate & sustain 👆 errors.