Posts tagged with hedonic treadmill

Matt Ridley has written an entertaining book: The Rational Optimist, detailing all the ways in which life is great for rich people. (By rich people I mean the fraction of humans who make ≥5 figure salaries in $.)

For example Louis XIV had a hundred chefs make him 100 meals and throw away the 99 he didn’t want, but nowadays a New York City “peasant” has even more choice of dinner consumption, without needing to be king. (I’m not sure if this applies to the poorest person in NYC or the poor ones who can’t make it in … which is why I’m restricting the statement to ≥$10000 earners. Although maybe Mr Ridley would argue that even a subsistence farmer today has it better than Les Hommes de Cro-Magnon.)

But so, uh, why is this an interesting book? Nobody writes a book called Hey, did you know the sky is blue? Except at sunset when it’s pink or when it rains it’s grey. Isn’t that interesting?! Because everybody already knows that. The fact that Mr Ridley can sell a "provocative" book full of amazing facts and viewpoints about how prosperous we are sends a grave message the opposite way.

Why is it that we need a book from Mr Ridley to remind us how good we’ve got it?




Among 19th century philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place.

Often considered to be a thoroughgoing pessimist, Schopenhauer in fact advocated ways — via artistic, moral and ascetic forms of awareness — to overcome a frustration-filled and fundamentally painful human condition.

Robert Wicks

(Source: plato.stanford.edu)




  • Airplane passenger: It was the worst day of my life!

    First, we had to wait for twenty minutes! before they would let us board. And then, we had to sit on the runway for forty minutes! before they would let us take off!
     
  • Louis CK: Oh, really? And then what happened next? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight?

    … You are sitting in a chair, 20,000 feet above the ground! … New York to California in five hours. It used to take thirty years and you’d die on the way there.
     
  • Airplane passenger: This seat doesn’t lean back very far.

This stuff is funny. But it does make me wonder, seriously. If nobody appreciates this stuff, what is the point of raising GDP?

(Source: plus.google.com)




Do [people] achieve the optimal allocation of [their] time…? My answer is no; people allocate a disproportionate amount of time to the pursuit of pecuniary rather than nonpecuniary objectives, as well as to “comfort” and positional goods, and shortchange goals that will have a more lasting effect on well-being[.]

This misallocation occurs because, in making decisions about how to use their time, individuals take their aspirations as fixed at their present levels,and fail to recognize that aspirations may change because of hedonic adaptation and social comparison. In particular, people make decisions assuming that more income, comfort, and positional goods will make them happier, failing to recognize that hedonic adaptation and social comparison will come into play, raise their aspirations to about the same extent as their actual gains, and leave them feeling no happier than before.

As a result, most individuals spend a disproportionate amount of their lives working to make money, and sacrifice family life and health, domains in which aspirations remain fairly constant as actual circumstances change, and where the attainment of one’s goals has a more lasting impact on happiness.

Hence, a reallocation of time in favor of family life and health would, on average, increase individual happiness.




The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp in Chad.Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
Nothing speaks to me like this photo series. The families and their food.
This famous photo of the Aboubakars (taken in 2006 I believe) inspired me to eat more legumes and beans over the past few years. I figured—if 6 of them can get by on ~ $1/week, I can definitely lower my expenses by working what’s in those bags into my diet — crowding out the rich, expensive food (meats, pâté, cheese, hummus, butter, pre-made stuff).
Always fighting the hedonic treadmill. Thanks, Aboubakars (and Peter Menzel).
RELATED: Global Rich List, Angus Maddison’s History of the World Economy, Hans Rosling’s 2010 TED talk

The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp in Chad.
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Nothing speaks to me like this photo series. The families and their food.

This famous photo of the Aboubakars (taken in 2006 I believe) inspired me to eat more legumes and beans over the past few years. I figured—if 6 of them can get by on ~ $1/week, I can definitely lower my expenses by working what’s in those bags into my diet — crowding out the rich, expensive food (meats, pâté, cheese, hummus, butter, pre-made stuff).

Always fighting the hedonic treadmill. Thanks, Aboubakars (and Peter Menzel).

RELATED: Global Rich List, Angus Maddison’s History of the World Economy, Hans Rosling’s 2010 TED talk


hi-res




You know what’s really nice about the U.S. of A.? Being able to take hot showers with lots of water, for pretty much as long as you like.

Thanks, prosperity.