Humans logo

Getting Off The Hedonistic Treadmill

“It is important to explore the pitfalls of exclusively chasing after hedonistic pleasures and why it’s crucial to get off the hedonistic treadmill.”

By Ben WPublished 7 months ago 5 min read

In our modern world that often seems primarily consumed by the pursuit of pleasure and instant gratification, the philosophy of ‘hedonism’, which advocates for the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain, has found its way into the hearts and minds of many people in our society. However, if we undergo a critical examination of the pursuit of hedonism for its own sake, it reveals a complex interplay between short-term pleasure and long-term well-being. It is important to explore the pitfalls of exclusively chasing after hedonistic pleasures and why it’s crucial to get off the hedonistic treadmill.

The hedonistic treadmill is a concept that is defined by how a person can be on a constant pursuit of pleasure, akin to running on a treadmill that never stops like a hamster looking to constantly drink from the waterspout in its cage or have a morsel of food released that it can devour. Despite one’s efforts to increase their well-being by seeking pleasure, individuals find themselves in a perpetual cycle where the happiness derived from hedonistic pursuits is fleeting, short-lived, and can’t match their prior pleasure intake. This treadmill effect occurs because as people experience pleasure, their expectations rise, and what once brought joy and satisfaction becomes the new baseline for the future. Consequently, a person must constantly seek higher and more intense pleasures to maintain the same level of satisfaction as they had experienced before.

At the heart of hedonism is the pursuit of dopamine hits, defined as ‘the brain’s reward neurotransmitter’ that is released in response to pleasurable stimuli. Whether it’s indulging in rich foods, drinks, smoking a cigar or cigarette, engaging in impulsive behaviors like skydiving, sports betting, or seeking another kind of immediate gratification, the dopamine rush provides a temporary sense of euphoria that we seek to replicate more and more. However, relying on these short-term pleasures can have detrimental effects on our long-term well-being.

The more individuals indulge in hedonistic behaviors solely for the sake of having pleasure, the more our brains become desensitized to the dopamine rush. This desensitization leads to a reduced ability to experience pleasure from the same stimuli over time. As a result, individuals may find themselves trapped in a cycle of escalating hedonistic pursuits, constantly searching for more intense experiences, to recapture the initial pleasure that they felt when experiencing it for the first time.

Hedonism fosters a tolerance to pleasure, where the same stimuli that once brought joy or happiness lose its effectiveness. This tolerance often drives individuals to seek novel and riskier experiences to elicit the same level of satisfaction. The pursuit of novelty, especially in different areas of pleasure, can lead to reckless behaviors, as individuals become increasingly desensitized and crave ever more intense experiences to maintain their hedonistic highs.

The relentless pursuit of hedonistic pleasure can take a toll on our mental health. The fleeting nature of pleasure on the hedonistic treadmill can contribute to feelings of emptiness, anxiety, and even depression when the anticipated happiness doesn’t materialize or quickly dissipates. The constant need for more pleasure can create a vicious cycle that undermines mental well-being and prevents the cultivation of lasting contentment.

Hedonism, when pursued exclusively, can create an illusion of fulfillment. Individuals may mistake the pursuit of immediate pleasures for overall life satisfaction, only to realize that the pursuit itself was devoid of deeper meaning. The fleeting nature of hedonistic pleasure leaves individuals yearning for a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment that goes beyond the momentary highs of pleasure-seeking.

In the relentless pursuit of hedonistic pleasures, individuals may inadvertently neglect the development and maintenance of their personal and professional relationships. The focus on self-gratification can lead to a disregard for the emotional needs and connections with others, hindering the development of supportive social networks that are essential for long-term well-being.

Hedonic adaptation is a psychological phenomenon wherein individuals return to a baseline level of happiness despite the positive or negative changes in their lives. This adaptation undermines the long-term effectiveness of hedonistic pursuits, as the pleasure derived from external sources tends to be temporary in nature. Understanding hedonic adaptation highlights the futility of relying solely on external stimulus for achieving lasting happiness and emphasizes the importance of internal factors such as mindset, gratitude, selflessness, and purpose.

While hedonism focuses on the pursuit of pleasure, ‘eudaimonia’, a concept rooted in Ancient Greek philosophy, emphasizes the pursuit of a meaningful and purposeful life. Eudaimonia involves living in a state of well-being, which aligns with one’s own values and contributes to personal growth but also the welfare of others in your life. Eudaimonia encourages individuals to seek their fulfillment through meaningful pursuits that go beyond momentary pleasures. By engaging in activities that align with your personal values and contributes to your personal growth, one can foster a deeper and more enduring sense of well-being.

Unlike hedonism, which can leave individuals vulnerable to the whims of external circumstances such as if the pleasure is achieved or not, eudaimonia promotes resilience. By focusing on internal strengths, values, and personal growth, individuals can weather life’s challenges with a sense of purpose and a resilient mindset.

Eudaimonia places a strong emphasis on the cultivation of positive and meaningful relationships at its core philosophy. Unlike the isolating nature of hedonistic pursuits for one’s own personal gratification, it is better to be building and maintaining connections with other people in your life, which contributes significantly to one’s long-term well-being.

The pursuit of hedonism for its own sake, driven by the relentless chase for dopamine hits, from lust to money to material items, can lead individuals into a never-ending cycle of escalating pleasures on the hedonistic treadmill. The ephemeral nature of these pleasures, coupled with the diminishing sensitivity to any kind of pleasure gained and an escalating tolerance to its achievement, poses a serious threat to any person’s long-term well-being and overall mental health.

It is crucial that we all recognize the limitations of pursuing hedonism, especially as the number one purpose in one’s life above all other priorities. I believe it is necessary to consider alternative paths to well-being, such as eudaimonia. By embracing a life of meaning, purpose, and both deeper and positive relationships, anybody can break free from the hedonistic treadmill and cultivate a more enduring and fulfilling sense of overall well-being. While pleasure has its place in a balanced life of moderating one’s impulses and desires, it should not be the sole driver of one’s overall pursuit of happiness. Ultimately, a life well-lived is one that combines pleasure with purpose, which creates a sustainable foundation for long-term contentment and fulfillment.

quoteshumanityhow tofriendshipfeaturefamilyadvice

About the Creator

Ben W

Ben helps students from around the world to improve their English language skills. Ben enjoys traveling around the world, developing his writing abilities, and reading good books.

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For Free

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (1)

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran7 months ago

    I've never thought that hedonism could take a toll on us in so many ways. This was very enlightening!

Ben WWritten by Ben W

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.