Friday, June 11, 2010

Economics of Happiness

I regularly try to remind my readers (and myself) that life is good:
Individual and societal wealth has increased dramatically over the past 50 years. In the United States, for example, real per capita income doubled between 1970 and 2000.
So why do we have to be reminded so often?
Life on the Hedonic Treadmill leaves us unfulfilled because it does not address the three consistent challenges to contentment: constant change, competing priorities for our time, and financial uncertainty. Constant change presents evolving views of our present and our future which challenge our view of what is important. We ask: What is important to me? We face many competing priorities for the use of our time and the expectation to produce more in less. We ask: How should I be spending my time? Financial uncertainty presented by job worries, market ups and downs and uncertainty about our life in retirement, drive us to greater levels of concern about both our present financial lives and our long-term financial future. We ask: How should I be dealing with money?

The lack of answers provided by life on the Hedonic Treadmill leaves us vulnerable to suggestion, manipulation and misdirection. Many today feel this lack of direction in symptoms ranging from constant, low-level anxiety to a desire to escape to a completely different life. It is no surprise that the lack of fulfillment in our collective lives on the Hedonic Treadmill has produced record levels of depression, obesity and personal bankruptcy.
The solution wise suggested by the author is that you should get off the treadmill and create your own path to your own goals. That way you can see your progress and be satisfied.

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