Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hedonistic treadmill

There is a strange dichotomy involved in having one computer window open to an online checkout service invoicing someone for hundreds of dollars, while another window is open to a ten cent poker tournament. There's no good or bad about it - it just is. I have been working quite a bit lately and for entertainment I sometimes keep a poker game up. Don't worry, I am not losing any money. In fact, I'm still up for the year. $2.20. Big numbers.

I've been thinking lately about the hedonistic treadmill. This is the idea that as we go through life, we adjust to our new comforts and then keep looking upwards at what the next level up has. If you get a pay increase or a new house, you eventually come to accept that as normal, and then want more.

Example: in college a pizza and a twelve pack of Milwaukee Best light was good enough for a Friday night. Now, a few beers of some microbrew and a nice dinner are the social norm. The cost differential is enormous. Another example: living in a smallish 2 bedroom condo was a luxury when we first moved in; now we're debating getting a bigger house because we desperately need the office space or a bonus room.

What do we really need in life? At one point I thought I could manage with nothing but a knapsack and a bagful of hope and dreams. Eventually reality set in, as it usually does. The money to live in this particular society doesn't come from nowhere, and I'm not such a nut that I want to wander off to live in the forest eating berries and squirrels.

Anyway, we're buying a new car tomorrow.

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