The Pursuit of Stuff

I get it – having nice things is, well nice. I happen to live in a big fancy house with rock countertops that were crystallized from magma that cooled far below the Earth’s surface. I have multi-layered wood floors that were milled from a single piece of timber and kiln dried before sawing and placed in my home. My shelter is also equipped with the ability to produce clean fresh drinking water on demand. Hot or cold – anytime. That shit is insane!

To top it off, I even own another house for a couple of fancy 3,000lb mechanical machines that magically store the power of 160 horses. These machines are designed to whip around humans at 100+ kilometers per hour, while providing heating/cooling and entertainment options – And I own two of these and I park them in their very own purpose built shelter.

I also consume on a regular basis exotic spices and fruits from the farthest parts of the world all year round, delivered directly to me even in the middle of a Canadian winter. I’m typing this post right now on some of the most sophisticated technology ever while being magically connected via invisible waves to the rest of the world, at speeds that seem to be faster than light.

What an amazing time to be alive. We all live like Kings and Queens. And the craziest thing about it is that we all want more! We want the things we see on TV. We want the things that other people have. We even seem to want the things that we already have, just the bigger and fancier version of them. We want with such emotional intensity that we have tricked ourselves into thinking that fulfilling our wants will eventually bring us the true happiness that we so desperately desire.

We are not completely blind to the fact that buying more stuff doesn’t bring us happiness – the problem is that we are constantly being blinded by consumerism, everyone is out to sell you something that is supposed to make your life better. It’s truly “stacked against you”. If obtaining more things could bring us lasting satisfaction, then at this moment in history, humans would be experiencing nothing but pure happiness. If things actually made us happy, as we accumulated more stuff, we would feel increasing levels of happiness until we reached a permanent state of euphoric bliss.

I’m typing about Hedonism. The mindless pursuit of short term pleasure at any cost. Hedonism states that this is the purpose of human life. Like a perpetual buffet of endless, sex, adrenalin, food, and material goods. It’s Animal House on steroids. The problem with Hedonism is it doesn’t factor in adaption. Once we achieve a new level of “happiness”. We adapt and humans do this shockingly fast.

This is called the hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation. It’s the tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events. According to this theory, as a person accumulates more stuff, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in NO permanent gain in happiness.

There are countless examples of this with lottery winners who experience hedonic adaption and are genuinely surprised that they haven’t reached a permanent level of euphoric bliss. This is what everyone dreams of when they purchase that lotto ticket. In some cases, lotto winners wished that they never had won. Just google “Lotto disaster” but be prepared to be enlightened.

If millions of dollars and hookers and blow is not a guarantee of happiness. What is? I will start with some wise advice from some old dude who lived a long time ago:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” – Seneca.

What can we learn from this? If you live a life in a mindless pursuit of more and more stuff, you may never be truly happy. The key is to figure out when enough is enough for you. Remember that your time is the most valuable asset that you have. Don’t waste it.

Author: The Money Runner

Husband, father, runner, personal finance enthusiast and computer geek. Thanks for visiting. Please check out my other posts and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Share This Post On

3 Comments

  1. Wow, nice post. It really makes me double question my desire of “needing” a new vehicle.

    Post a Reply
    • Exactly Raheel. It’s crazy how much stuff we think we “need”. It’s just as insane to think that most people are upgrading their vehicles every three years. My wife and I car pooled for over 10 years and managed to save at least 50K over leasing, gassing and insuring a second vehicle. I’m also thinking of dropping the clown car altogether and going with an electric bike – still thinking but close. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post! Thanks for your comment.

      Post a Reply
      • We currently have two cars, and we’re also considering ditching one.

        However, with different schedules and kids in the picture, two cars is a requirement.

        Post a Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things | The Money Runner - […] regarding The Money Runner’s standpoint on personal finance. You may have read posts such as The Pursuit Of Stuff,…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *