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The Now Struggle of Hedonism Happiness In Modern Society

Examine the structure connection between hedonism and happiness via cultural, psychological, and societal perspectives. Explore the reasons for, effects of, and cultural views on pursuing pleasure in our search for fulfillment and worth.

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image by freepik

Happiness has traditionally been associated with hedonism, which is the desire of pleasure and the avoidance of misery. Hedonism and happiness have a complicated relationship that is impacted by social, psychological, and cultural variables. The article will explore the history of hedonism, its effects on happiness, how it has expanded and grown in modern society, as well as any possible effects and viewpoints from various social viewpoints.

To put it simply, "hedonism" is the idea that happiness and pleasure are the most significant aspects of life. It's about trying to enjoy yourself and stay as far away from pain as you can. Maximizing pleasure, according to hedonists, is the path to a happy life.

Hedonism and Happiness: A Psychological Perspective

Psychological theories and frameworks offer multiple perspectives for comprehending hedonism. According to classical hedonism, which was promoted by Greek philosophers such as Epicurus, pleasure is the ultimate aim of existence. Based on this viewpoint, happiness is the result of maximizing pleasure and reducing misery. Modern psychology research, however, presents a more complex picture.

Positive psychology research focuses on the difference between hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. Eudaimonic happiness is connected to fulfillment, purpose, and self-realization, whereas hedonic happiness stems from engaging in pleasure-seeking activities. Studies show that a well-rounded strategy that includes both hedonic and eudaimonic components enhances overall wellbeing.

Foundation For A Reformulated Theory of Psychological Hedonism

Reformulated theories of psychological hedonism (PH) can overcome criticisms of earlier versions thanks to developments in affective neuroscience and psychology.

“Liking” and “Wanting” – One such scientific advance is the elucidation of the neurobiological underpinnings of reward. Like PH, reward has traditionally been conceptualized in terms of pleasure, with little clarity on what connects pleasurable responses to a reward to future pursuit of the reward. However, a more sophisticated understanding of reward is provided by incentive salience theory, in which reward is parsed into the separable components of ‘liking’ and ‘wanting’, as well as, the incentive learning process that connects previous ‘liking’ to future ‘wanting’. 

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Examining the psychological aspects of hedonism and happiness exposes the shortcomings of the oversimplified perspective of classical hedonism, which places emphasis on pleasure as the only route to happiness.

On the other hand, modern psychology distinguishes between eudaimonic and hedonic pleasure, highlighting the significance of self-realization and purpose in reaching genuine fulfillment. Studies highlight the effectiveness of a well-rounded strategy that incorporates hedonic and eudaimonic components to improve general wellbeing. Moreover, improved theories of psychological hedonism have been produced by developments in affective neuroscience and psychology, which have illuminated the neurological foundations of human motivation. Ideas like "liking" and "wanting" shed light on the intricate connection between present enjoyment and future desire.

Social Dynamics of Hedonism and Happiness

The social environment greatly influences people's perspectives on hedonism and happiness. Consumer culture, which is driven by the media and advertising, frequently upholds hedonistic ideals by confusing pleasure and material goods with happiness. A story that is driven by consumers upholds the notion that pursuing pleasure results in fulfillment.

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image by freepik

Furthermore, peer pressure and social comparison contribute to the spread of hedonistic practices. Social media and other digital platforms encourage people to share their experiences and lives, which has led to an increased focus on rapid gratification and outside validation in today's digitally connected society.

The social dynamics relating to hedonism and happiness highlight the significant impact of the societal setting on personal viewpoints and conduct. Driven by abundant media and advertising, consumer society frequently confuses happiness and material belongings with genuine contentment, sustaining the belief that pursuing pleasure on its own brings to fulfillment. This narrative, which is influenced by the values of the consumer, perpetuates the impression that financial luxury and personal fulfillment are interchangeable. Peer pressure and social comparison also contribute to the amplification of hedonistic inclinations in society.

Since social media and digital platforms have been there, people have been bombarded with well edited pictures of what appear to be perfect lives all the time, which has led to a culture of instant satisfaction and outside approval. Consequently, in today's digitally linked society, there is an increased focus on fleeting joys and petty accomplishments. Finally, cultural narratives that conflate hedonistic pursuits with true happiness must be rigorously analyzed and challenged. Through cultivating a more profound comprehension of the depths including hedonism and happiness, people may endeavor to attain a more equitable and significant quest of contentment in their life.

Hedonism's Influence on Contemporary Culture and Trends

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image by rawpixel

The spread of hedonistic ideas has been accelerated by globalization and the growth of technology. With the growth of digital platforms and on-demand services, people may now get pleasure and amusement conveniently. The way people seek pleasure has changed as a result of technology improvements, from online buying to binge-watching streaming entertainment.

Changes in society norms and culture also have an impact on perceptions about happiness and hedonism. The focus on health and self-care has resulted in the monetization of activities that are meant to improve well-being, like mindfulness exercises, fitness retreats, and spa treatments. But these attempts' commercialization raises doubts about their sincerity and true fulfillment.

  • The spread of hedonistic concepts is accelerated by globalization and technology.

  • Digital platforms provide easy access to leisure and enjoyment.

  • The way that society views happiness and hedonism is changing.

  • Concerns about authenticity arise when well-being activities are commercialized.

Societal Perspectives on Hedonism and Happiness

Different cultures and situations have different views on hedonism and happiness in society. Hedonistic activities are viewed with skepticism or moral judgment in certain civilizations, while they are celebrated as symbols of prosperity and success in others. Alternative views on happiness are frequently provided by religious and philosophical traditions, which place an emphasis on virtues like self-control, self-discipline, and empathy.

The problems that uncontrolled hedonism presents have given rise to movements that support thoughtful living and holistic well-being. Humans and communities are looking for alternative routes to happiness that put an emphasis on purpose, connection, and balance. These alternatives range from mindfulness-based therapies to sustainable lifestyle initiatives.

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image by reepic.diller

Hedonism and happiness are seen differently in different cultures; in some, hedonistic activities are celebrated as symbols of riches, while in others, they are viewed with suspicion. In contrast, qualities like empathy and self-control are frequently promoted by philosophical and theological traditions as means of achieving fulfillment.

Alternative paths to happiness are pursued by communities and individuals that place a higher value on connection, purpose, and balance. These activities cover anything from adopting mindfulness-based treatments to supporting campaigns for environmentally friendly living. This widespread change is a reflection of a larger, cross-cultural search for a more contented and meaningful life.

Impacts and Implications of Hedonism on Well-being



  1. Temporary Gratification: Hedonism often results in temporary satisfaction, offering fleeting moments of pleasure without sustained fulfillment.

  2. Escapism: Hedonistic pursuits may serve as a means of escaping from underlying issues or emotional challenges, providing momentary relief but failing to address deeper concerns.

  3. Risk of Psychological Dissonance: The pursuit of hedonistic pleasures without considering long-term consequences can lead to psychological dissonance, as individuals grapple with conflicting desires for immediate gratification and lasting happiness.

  1. Psychological Well-being: The emphasis on short-term gratification over long-term fulfillment can contribute to mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, and existential dissatisfaction.

  2. Relationship Dynamics: Hedonism may impact interpersonal relationships, as individuals prioritize personal pleasure over the needs and well-being of others, potentially leading to conflict and discord.

  3. Economic Impact: Societies influenced by hedonistic values may prioritize consumerism and materialism, contributing to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, as well as widening socioeconomic disparities.

Hedonism may provide short-term pleasure, but pursuing it might have lasting effects. Excessive use in hedonistic activities, such as drug addiction or obsessive consuming, can result in addiction, poor health, and a reduction in overall wellbeing. Furthermore, concentrating only on obtaining pleasure could take away from more profound sources of fulfillment and significance in life.

From a societal standpoint, hedonistic values' predominance can support a short-termist and instant-gratification culture. People that have this mentality may find it more difficult to work together for social cohesion and sustainability because they put their own interests ahead of the interests of the larger community.


The complex connection between hedonism and happiness is a reflection of both cultural dynamics and human nature. Although hedonistic activities provide instant gratification, a deeper understanding of happiness recognizes the significance of satisfaction, meaning, and wellbeing.

It is essential to advance a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of happiness in light of the negative effects of hedonism on people's personal and societal well-being. Making meaningful relationships, sticking to values that transcend materialism, and engaging in mindfulness practices might help us navigate the complicated terrain of hedonism and happiness with more intention and clarity.

Written by Hana Angela

Edited by Virginia Helzainka


Conner, M., Rhodes, R., William, D. 2018. Affective Determinants of Health Behavior. United States: Oxford University Press.

Kringelbach, M., and Berridge, K. 2010. Pleasure of the Brain. United States: Oxford University Press.

Seligman, M. 2011. Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. Free Press.

Ryan, R., and Deci, E. 2001. On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 141-166. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.141

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