Friday, November 16, 2007

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

The Hedonic Treadmill.

Money cant buy happiness. Well, it could be argued that people who say that dont know where to go shopping. Ladies love new shoes and guys love new playstations. Boys toys and girls toys may be different, but fundamentally material possessions do bring happiness.

But do those possessions bring lasting happiness? No. Studies of lottery winners show that after merely a year, lottery winners are back to their former pre-win happiness levels.

Human beings are designed to chase material/worldly wealth and possessions. But as one gets more wealthy, the amount of new wealth required to get that feeling of happiness starts to increase exponentially. In the end, whatever material wealth obtained will stop bringing happiness as in the case of lottery winners.

You could live in mansion, playing playstation on your 72" plasma screen while listening to tunes on your Bang and Olufsen audiophile setup yet you will still eventually reach a stage where those things will no longer bring you happiness. You can run the hedonic treadmill, but your run will lead you nowhere - stop running and the treadmill stops spinning. You then realize that you havent really gone anywhere.

After one can well afford basic needs and simple luxuries, running the hedonic treadmill is a futile pursuit of happiness.

The hedonic treadmill is distracting. too much focus on material wealth and the happiness that is harder and harder to get achieve will inevitably lead to neglect of other aspects of life. To be sociable and extroverted actually means putting thought/mental-focus to the existance/needs/feelings/happenings of others. An introvert caught up in the hedonic treadmill does not do that.

As a kid, an influential figure started telling me that 'friends are temporary' and 'come and go'. My emphisis on social interaction was never the same after that. I was suspicious of the intentions of others and proud of my own flawed constitution and ideals. An introverted worldview during my teens practically destroyed my social life.

It is only now that I realize i should have put more thought/mental-focus/effort in interacting with others. I had been too caught up with myself, too introverted and too focused on the hedonic treadmill that I neglected a very important part of life - friends.

The next stage of the development of me as a person will revolve around social networking. An excellent opportunity awaits next year for I will be Richardson Hall's international rep.

ESSENCE of happiness and wellbeing
  1. Education (x)
  2. Spirituality (x)
  3. Stress Management (x)
  4. Exercise (x)
  5. Nutrition (x)
  6. Connectedness (O) next year's focus
  7. Environment (x)


  1. gee ezra.
    are you not happy now?
    we should grab a coffee or something the next time we're both in sa.

  2. good idea :) let me know when you're around. Afida's coming back in early dec so perhaps we could meet then.

    Im fine. Happiness is relative i guess. Be happy for too long and you will eventually feel jaded...