The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

My Own Hedonic Treadmill

I was reading a magazine the other day and they had one of those areas where they define a made up word or term that is supposed to be the new slang or a social commentary. The term of the month was ‘hedonic treadmill’ and it was defined as: the tendency for a person’s economic expectations and desires to increase at the same rate as his or her income, resulting in no net gain in satisfaction or happiness.

(Side note here: I’m fully aware that because I’m using a direct quote I should be referencing the magazine I pulled it from, however, I’m afraid if I did it would cause things to swing wildly off topic into another discussion altogether, so I’m just going to live dangerously here in the Internet abyss and not tell you where I got it from.)

I have to tell you, reading that had a strong impact on me. I am absolutely on a hedonic treadmill. No more than 5 years ago I was a new college graduate, struggling to have enough money to buy groceries even though I was living rent-free in a friend of the family’s house while he was away on business. I can clearly remember being worried that we would run out of diapers before I got paid again and could go buy another pack. Now I own a house, my husband and I have nice, new cars and we have money in the bank. But am I satisfied? Of course not, I’m constantly striving to make more money so we can live at a higher level than we do. Sure, we have HBO and DVR, but I want a housekeeping service and a Coach purse. I want a giant hybrid SUV with a DVD player and satellite radio. I want a house that’s twice as big with lots of closets for all of our stuff..

I can see myself and our family with all of those things in another five years or so. The question is, when we have them, will we be happier? Will life really be easier like it seems it would be? I think probably not. And that’s a big bummer. I don’t want to be like that. I want to enjoy what I have. I want to make the most of the richness that we currently enjoy. So I’m working on it. Do I really need a housekeeper? No, I just need to be more organized on a regular basis. And the little SUV is perfect for now. We all fit and it’s super cute. And the small house is fine, we just have too much stuff we don’t use. I need to work on throwing out or giving out what we don’t need and we will be just fine. And seriously, I don’t even like designer purses that much. My mother in law made me the cutest little clutch for my birthday that I like just as well.

I’m working on it.

4 Responses to My Own Hedonic Treadmill

  1. a. Playboy
    b. I so agree! I was just reading a financial guide that says young people should consciously put their entire raise(s) in savings and not get used to having them. It is a great way to get off that treadmill.

  2. it’s amazing how much or how little the same person can live on and still sustain the same amount of “happiness.” Even though i can not stand treadmills, I may accidentally be running next to you on the same model. too bad these don’t have the emergency shut off switch. I think we slowly have to go down from a 8.3 speed to 0.0.

  3. Uncle Robin is not your real uncle? Where have I been?!

  4. agree 100% I have been trying to figure out where all of our money has gone. And I keep thinking about how long we plan on staying in this house thinking we need something bigger, in reality I rarely use all the rooms I have now, so why not just use them all up and then worry about it.

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