Never mind what they say about the "Hedonistic Treadmill" or "Miswanting", or that "Materialism makes us sad" - happiness is relative and having more than the other people around you confers a feeling of accomplishment, better-ness, and security. Do you think that the one percenters are any less happy, because they are so rich? No. It pays dividends to have more than anybody else.
For starters, you feel proud when you're better off than everybody else - and they say that happiness comes from a sense of pride and accomplishment. Box ticked.
And if you're in the one-percenters group, then you can have a sense of belonging - another happiness factor. In fact, you'll probably want to hang out exclusively with that group anyways, since they're the only ones who can afford to keep up with you, plus they don't dress as badly as some of the people you used to know.
Solidarity with other people and recognition from them of your (net) worth ticks another box on the happiness list.
Also, you get more power and more control over your life and other people's. Lots of people will do whatever you want, because they want what you have. That will give you a sense of purpose, which ticks another box.
You can pay for frivolous things and then assuage your guilt by giving vast amounts to charity. This serves double-duty to remind your children that they must earn your love, if they expect to have any inheritance.
You don't have to worry about medical bills, childcare, train schedules, or any of those other mundane things that everyone else is worrying about. Instead, you can try out fancy restaurants, cutting-edge surgical procedures, private planes, or anything else your heart desires. When you're rich, the world really is your oyster!
They say that engaging in something to the point of losing yourself in the moment - aka, "Flow" - is the highest state of happiness. It is a productive activity that resonates with your own core values and leverages your unique skills, which probably explains why so many CEOs on Wall Street get tremendous satisfaction from taking lots of money from other people without having to use any of their own. That takes skill, dedication, and tremendous powers of persuasion.
Unfortunately, there have been some reports of the super-rich experiencing ennui, because they have all they can have and spending it doesn't confer any additional happiness. They employ consultants to help them figure out what to do with it. Well, maybe they just need to take a break. If they went on a survivalist course for a week, they'd probably welcome back their original lifestyle with open arms.
Then there is, "Gratefulness". This has been posited as the true source of happiness. That we are given something of tremendous value and it is given to us for free - that is something for which we are grateful and confers lasting happiness.
If that's the case, then it isn't enough to just be rich. You must be MORE rich than everybody else. That's because we're only really happy when we're relatively happier than other people.
The key to breaking the Hedonistic Treadmill is simply to have everything - then, there isn't anything more you could possible want!
What do you think...?
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I came across a pearl of wisdom from José Mujica in his interview in the Human documentary. Here it is transcribed from the video:
"Either you are happy with very little, free of all that extra luggage, because you have happiness inside, or you don't get anywhere. I am not advocating poverty. I am advocating sobriety. But since we have invented a consumer society, the economy must constantly grow. If it fails to increase, it's a tragedy. We have invented a mountain of superfluous needs. Shopping for new, discarding the old... That's a waste of our lives! When I buy something, when you buy something, you're not paying money for it. You've paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing that money can't buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one's life and freedom that way."--David G. Wilson