HEDONIC ADAPTATION: Remember That Once, You Dreamed Of Being Where You Are Now

Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash

I know this quote has the potential of being an eye-roller, since it's printed on far too many cards / mugs / t-shirts and other tacky and unnecessary paraphernalia.

But the thing about those over-commercialized quotes is that they're often true.

Take a minute to think about that; what do you have now that you once only dreamed of having? Or that maybe you didn't even dare allow yourself to dream about, but now is yours?

It's likely that there's at least one thing in your life - if not more - that's literally a dream come true.

Why am I here now, reminding you (and myself) of this fact?

Because of a little something called HEDONIC ADAPTATION.

Hedonic Adaptation means that "you typically adjust to changes in your life, so the excitement or unhappiness you may feel after positive or negative life events usually fades or wears off over time, returning you to your default level of happiness."

Basically, because we humans are such adaptable creatures - an evolutionary necessity - we quickly adjust to any changes in our lives. (Since this is true, it begs the question: Why are we so afraid of change?)

The problem with this is that we tend to forget that we once didn't have what we now have; we start taking things for granted.

And that's why we need to stop every now and then to remind ourselves of what we have, by remembering a time when we didn't have it.

If we don't, we'll forever be chasing the elusive 'there' instead of enjoying 'here.'

This post is my reminder to myself.

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Nearly ten years ago now, I moved back to Ottawa from Montreal.

At the time, I was experiencing one of my lowest lows; it literally felt as though nothing in my life was working.

Mental Health

I was clinically depressed, and experienced regular very severe mood swings (which I later found out were partially due to birth control pills).

I also hadn't dealt with the impact of my childhood trauma, and was still in contact with my (gaslighting) family, who were still fully embroiled in their toxic patterns.

Physical Health

I was overweight; my body felt as heavy as my spirit did and navigating through life was a miserable experience.

I binged regularly on tons of sugar and junk food, which not only contributed to the excess weight, but also to the poor mental health.


I was virtually unemployed - working only a few shifts every week in a restaurant that was never busy - after having decided not to launch the business I'd been trying to start.


Not only was I broke thanks to being all but unemployed, but I was also in debt.

Nearly a year-and-a-half of not working and using my credit card to pay for groceries and living expenses ensured that I racked up significant credit card bills.


I disliked myself to such an extent - partially due to all that unprocessed childhood trauma - that I couldn't imagine anyone ever loving me, let alone wanting to spend their lives with me.

And although I had a few friends, the depth of connection I craved just wasn't there.


There were so many unknowns; not only about the future, but in the present moment. I felt utterly lost and directionless; I didn't have a focus or sense of purpose.

I wasn't sure of anything, including finding a reason to get up every day.

But now, fast forward to present day:

Mental Health

Most days, I feel pretty good, if not downright happy.

I eat in a way that stabilizes my blood sugar, and every day I focus on all that I have to be grateful for by writing a gratitude list.

(This is something I must do, because I was raised in a family that only focused on the negatives, so I have to re-train my brain to look for the positives in every day things.)

Physical Health

Not only have I lost weight thanks to a healthier diet (and quitting binge eating), but I'm now the fittest I've ever been in my life.

I work out fairly intensely at least three times per week, and am active in some way almost every day.

Living in my body is now a comfortable ride, on most days.


I've been in my current job for nearly four years, and have been mostly employed since I moved back. (There was a brief bout of unemployment during COVID.)

I went from waitressing less than 10-hours a week, to now being employed full-time as a compliance analyst. The work is fine, but the people I work with are fantastic.

Having a steady job with regular pay and benefits has also greatly contributed to my mental health because I'm not lying awake at night worrying about how I'm going to pay my bills.


Not only am I out of debt, but I have savings, investments, and a retirement fund.

I'm finally at a place in my life where I can afford to use money as a tool to solve problems.

EXAMPLE: My fiancé and I recently moved in together and we were able to pay for professional painters instead of having to do the work ourselves.

(I'm nearly 44 years old and have always had to paint every single home myself, so this was a real treat.)

Being able to use money as a tool to solve problems is a privileged position to be in.


As I committed to regular therapy and finally started working on my childhood trauma in earnest, I started to heal.

I also - finally - cut my toxic family out of my life.

PRO-TIP: Find the source of poison in your life and cut it off; it's shocking how much you can flourish when you're no longer surrounded by people who are actively bringing you down.

Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with myself.

And that's when I met my now fiancé; we're getting married this fall.

I also made new friends, and deepened the connections with friends I already had.

FUN FACT: It's so much easier for others to love you when you love yourself.


I still don't know what the future will hold. (But who does?!)

I do know that I now have a stable foundation to live my life from; health, work, finances, friends, love, and purpose.

Crafting beautiful ideas into words, and sharing them in a way that might relieve someone's emotional burden is what gives me my ultimate sense of purpose.

I've been through so much and struggled for so long that I feel compelled to share.

Photo by Brad Switzer on Unsplash

I can still see myself in Montreal, sitting on the floor of my nearly empty apartment as I was getting ready to move; depressed, hopeless, and eating candy out of an over-sized bag.

That girl would have given anything to have everything that I now have.

Back then, I didn't dare even imagine it.

But now here I am.

Don't get me wrong, there are still difficult days, and every transition - positive though it may be - has its own set of challenges.

But on those challenging day, I remember that sad girl sitting on the floor, and I remind myself of how far I've come and how very good life is.

What about you? Do you have a "sitting in the floor" moment you can look back on and say "Thank goodness I'm not there anymore"?

Remember that moment the next time you feel as though you're not doing 'enough' or that you'll never get to where you want to go.

Chances are you've made progress, but - because of hedonic adaptation - you've adjusted to the changes along the way and forgot to notice how far you've come.

Sit with that for a second; revisit the person you were then and acknowledge what you now have.

Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

You might be asking yourself "How does this topic relate to recovery from binge-eating?" What I found is that - for me - finding new ways of thinking about life and its challenges helped me to stop stress-eating, and has been a very big part of my ability to stop binge-eating.

For more on changing your mindset and imagining good things click ⭐ here ⭐ to get my guide on Visualizations — yours FREE with subscription to my site.

Hey Friend! Thanks for reading. If you loved 💙 this post, why not subscribe? I promise to keep showing up for you with high-quality, thought-provoking content. Because every day is a good day to feel your best.


Popular Posts