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Are you stuck on the hedonic treadmill?

Positive psychology coach Casey Paul shares how she nurtures her clients to becoming their most optimistic selves…

World Happiness Day
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Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
March 22, 2024
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As someone whose job it is to help people become their happiest selves, there's one mistake I see people make time and time again in the pursuit of happiness.

We all know the phrase ‘happiness is a journey, not a destination,’ yet many of us still treat happiness as that elusive destination that we will finally arrive at when certain conditions are met.

 We live in the world of, 'I’ll be happy when,' and this can put us off living life to its fullest.

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Casey Paul is a positive psychology coach

When we exist this way, we miss out on so much joy in life and will forever be stuck on what’s known as the hedonic treadmill.

For the uninitiated, the hedonic treadmill is the short-term sense of happiness you get when you hit a milestone before you return to your baseline of happiness.

The key to getting off the hedonic treadmill is to see happiness as a lifestyle to consistently and intentionally invest in, rather than a place you'll get to.

As a happiness expert, these are the six tips I offer my clients to help them get off the hedonic treadmill for good.

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Casey shares how to get of the hedonic treadmill

Nurture your relationships

Humans have an intrinsic need for social connection. Make sure you prioritise nurturing your relationships with friends, family, colleagues and your wider community, especially in person. You can enhance your connection to others and strengthen your relationships by practicing active listening and having more empathy for others.

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Prioritise time with your friends

RELATED: Why is making friends as an adult so hard? 

Elevate your positive emotions

This is not about 'good vibes only' toxic positivity, nor is it about forcing yourself to feel positive all the time and ignoring your negative feelings.

Both positive and negative emotions are contagious, so be mindful of your environment and who you choose to surround yourself with as you can ‘catch’ negative emotions. 

Afro-American woman relaxing after a workout.© Getty
Positive emotions are contagious

Find your flow

Playing to your strengths and aligning your life with your values will help you to experience more flow in your life and be more engaged, which is an important ingredient for living your happiest life.

Instead of trying to strengthen your weaknesses, which can feel like an uphill battle, focus more on understanding and playing to your strengths.

 RELATED: Ask a life coach: How can I stop comparing myself to others? 

Slowing down and savouring special moments is an amazing way to help you feel more present and experience more flow in your life.

Live with purpose

You can elevate your everyday by giving more meaning to the ordinary moments in your life, celebrating the small things instead of waiting for the big rare moments.


Self-portrait photo of a young woman at the beach.© Getty
Appreciate the small things in life

Become a goal getter

Setting yourself meaningful goals and achieving them is a key ingredient to living your happiest life. They don’t need to be huge life goals, but simply making sure that you have things you are working towards and making progress in will give you that important sense of accomplishment and life satisfaction.

 DISCOVER: Does smiling make you happy? An expert explains

Prioritise healthy habits

Ensure you are filling your happiness cup up with movement, sleep, restoration and nutrition. One of the most valuable ways to elevate your everyday is to get your body moving in nature. Being in nature broadens your viewpoint; it’s more panoramic, whereas when we're using technology, it’s narrow and inward focused.

When you broaden your vision, your eyes relax, lowering stress levels and inducing a state of calm. The sweet spot for being in nature is a minimum of two hours a week to experience wellbeing benefits.

Follow Casey on Instagram and visit HELLO!'s Happiness Hub for more inspiration for living a happier life

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