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hedonic

Published on: 2021-01-13

Let me tell you a short story. Back ten years ago, I was making an average salary with no benefits in a small business. One day, after four years working there, I decided that I had enough. Money-wise, but also to try something else with my life. Just for the sake of it.

Few weeks after I applied on couple positions, I got an interview in a multi-billion crown corporation. Got the job, with about 50% increase in my salary PLUS full benefits, including pension (what we can call golden handcuffs). I was raving.

That day, I specifically told my wife that we will no longer have money issues. For the symbol of it, I bought an expensive toothbrush (something about $8 for a disposable one, stupid right?).

This is it, right there: the hedonic treadmill.

The act of using newly-added money in your life to justify stupid decisions to try to make you happy, but it does eventually lead to a return to normal state where you are no longer happier.

By buying the toothbrush, all I did was to transform future money into instant happiness that won't bring any real value in my life because we, as humans, don't need so much shit anyway. All I did was to fulfill a void because my mind needs constant justification of its own existence.

Happiness and justification also equal pleasure and satisfaction. But it doesn't specify for how long. And that is the main problem with buying stuff these days. The need gets created artificially by marketers and we, people, drink this Elixir of Singing Birds as pure truth, like it will solve all our problems.

Back to my not-so-short story where I need to write down some facts. This job change did increase my wealth. It allowed me to try new/different things and experiences. But I'm still trying to find my way in a sea of possibilities, rowing against the current to see something different.

Because if you replace the toothbrush in my story by a new car, a second new car, a more expensive place to live and what else, you get a life over-inflated with consumerism at its best. And it is the exact thing I'm trying to fight big time, but without success as of today. One day, I'll be in my sweet spot out of this madness.


The Minimalists talked about Eudaemonia few years back, a way to rebalance hedonism in life by talking about a broader sense of wellness instead of pleasured happiness.

Since this article doesn't pretend to be a full one on the subject, please refer to Wikipedia for a more in-depth article about hedonic treadmill.

I was also referring about hedonic treadmill on Reduire (in French).

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