Healing and Getting Off the Hedonic Treadmill

There are many things that we think will make us happy – having a few cocktails, that new pair of heels, indulging a chocolate craving or being a total couch potato. However, these things don’t offer long-term happiness and after the short-lived emotional high you’re back to square one.

Psychologists refer to this as ‘hedonic adaption’. Often the pursuit of positive emotions will give you a short-term high when you finally purchase that pair of expensive shoes or achieve your goal, but the pleasure soon wears off and you return to how you felt before.

In the pursuit of happiness many of us spend our time chasing the next ‘best thing’. We feel motivated by earning the right to be happy through achievements or indulgences. While for some high-achievers this might be a successful tactic to remain goal-orientated, if the journey is nothing more than a chase then it’s time to get off the treadmill. After all, life is happening right here, right now and we owe it to ourselves choose activities and habits that give us a full life that is healing, nourishing and sustainable.

When suffering from hypoglycemia, life becomes a practice in balance. Balancing the stresses of everyday life with the restraints of a restricted diet and health regime. Some days it’s easier to tip the balancing scales and give into the short-term emotional pleasures that we’re often denied and our body craves (3pm sugary pick-me-up anyone?). Here are three ways that might help you finally get off that hedonic treadmill:

  1. Give Up Alcohol. There comes an age where you start to realise your adolescent routine of getting drunk every weekend is not a sustainable way to live. Your body and blood-sugar levels end up as trashed as the nightclub you were in last night doing tequila shots until 3am. Hypoglycemia and alcohol do not mix, and if you’re anything like me you end up with a two-day hangover as your body cries out for quick energy. Since quitting alcohol, I have more energy and my symptoms have reduced significantly. The benefits far outweigh the negatives (which, by the way, are looking like a weirdo drinking coconut water and snacking on celery sticks while your friends are eating from the normal 22-year-old food pyramid consisting of pizza and beer).
  2. Ditch the White Stuff.  “White” foods consist of pastries, pasta and bread. Unfortunately, we cannot have our cake and eat it too as these types of foods cause irregular blood-sugar levels and make your immune cells “stupid” and ineffective at fighting off diseases. Eliminate all “man”-ipulated foods from you diet and eat like a caveman- meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds and seasonal fruit (for more information research the ‘paleo diet’).
  3. Be Present and Grateful. Did you know that 40% of your happiness is controlled by intentional activities? That means that choices we make on a day-to-day basis really matter. Sometimes when you’re chasing the next thing on the hedonic treadmill, it’s difficult to remember why you stepped on it in the first place. Take a moment to think of something you’re grateful for. Chances are it isn’t that pair of heels or that chocolate you ate earlier, but the relationships you have with your friends and your family. Practicing gratitude may counteract that hedonic adaptation process and help with that daily hypoglycemic balancing act.
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