linklings, payoffs and hedonic treadmills, oh my! edition

Ever since I first read about it I’ve been fascinated by the hedonic treadmill. In short, it’s the idea that people generally increase their happiness level when they achieve a goal, buy something, or otherwise improve their lives, but that the increase in happiness soon “resets” and requires that person to achieve yet another goal, buy something better, etc.  You buy a BMW and briefly you’re happy, but soon you wonder why YOU can’t own a Mercedes.

But I’ve tried to use my self-knowledge of the hedonic treadmill over the past few years to analyze whether some action or purchase is going to permanently increase my state of happiness or just give me a junkie’s quick boost. For the past couple of years, on this principle, we’ve only owned two small TVs – one old CRT 21″ and a 19″ LCD, which was our main TV, as it was the only one hooked up to (basic) cable.

So Bubelah and I finally decided to get a new 40″ TV – not huge by today’s standards, but big enough.  It was amazing for a few days – I could finally see the screen from across the room.  Football was vastly more fun to watch.

Where am I headed with this? I realized last night I already barely notice the big screen.  Not that I’m UNhappy with it – I simply noticed that the “happiness burst” I got when we purchased it is fading noticeably.  Worth remembering…

Plus, the payoff:  moving twice in a year (from Jersey to Florida, then from a rental to a home we own) has been quite hard, and we still are unpacking and organizing.  It’s been tougher being further away from family.  But yesterday it was in the low 70s and sunny and while the majority of the nation was shivering I was walking in shirtsleeves in the sunshine.  I’m quite dependent on the sun – I probably have seasonal affective disorder or something – so that makes me happy.  At least for now.

Links:

why I moved my money to a credit union:  I’ve heard about this movement over the past few days, and while I support it wholeheartedly and intend to do it in the future, I’m not doing it now.  We have so many automatic payments and linked checks and direct deposits that the idea of moving from MegaBank to a smaller bank makes me exhausted before I even do it.  But I am setting up business checking, and maybe I’ll go that route for the business account.

Score Free Stuff on Your Birthday:  Clever little list!

How to Save Money on Heating this Winter:  Just including this for all you cold weather folks!

AT&T Lowers Monthly Cost For Unlimited Talk And Data.:  I have to believe someday we’ll just pay a flat rate for phone service.   I’d just like to see free incoming calls like the entire planet outside of America gets…

Saving With Purpose: Short Term Goals:  $50,000 saved sounds like a medium-term goal for most people, but I agree – saving for retirement, college and so on is great but nothing lets you sleep at night like a big go-to-hell fund.

Other links:

photo by arturodonate

6 comments

  • I had the same experiences, I bought xbox360 and 40'' LCD TV that I dreamed,I was happy that I could watch TV and play video games, but 2 weeks later, I even hadn't turned them on for couple days. Now I'm wondering to buy a new car. The hedonic treadmills theory is definitely precise this occasion.

  • I like your post but i am unable to understand it properly.

  • I did the not wise thing 10 years ago and invested in something before knowing what it was. It turns out it wasn't a bad investment. The friend giving me the advice was just telling me to get in the game. I don't regret it. I've educated myself a lot since then. SOme times doing something is better than sitting on the sidelines.

  • I start my work-out on the treadmill for 35 mins then weights for 25mins. My speed is 3 and my max incline is 5. What exactly will the treadmill do for me besides tone my legs and calves? Will it help get rid of this “pouch” I have around my lower stomach?

  • portable_treadmill

    This is the great blog, I'm reading them for a while, thanks for the new posts!