Author Topic: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?  (Read 10251 times)

enpower

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How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« on: August 14, 2014, 09:03:10 PM »
I've got pretty much everything I need.

But I still have cravings to buy facier stuff. Upgrading my bike, buying better clothes, more expensive food items.

Why do I still want these things??

I know it will not make me any happier longer term buying upgraded things but I can't help dreaming about owning them?

slugline

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2014, 09:30:12 PM »
I'm not exactly an expert, but I think you end up replacing them with cravings for investments leading to financial independence.

enpower

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2014, 09:44:57 PM »
So I need to have a mental checklist everytime I see a new shiny bike and replace the $2000 price tag for the bike and compare it to what $2000 can compound into and how many years earlier I can retire?

Is that what you mean?

mxt0133

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2014, 11:29:31 PM »
You want those things because sometimes it's human nature to want things, it's not because there is something wrong with you.  It is natural to want "better" things, the thing is we are programmed to think that better things are things that cost more.  Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not.  You just have to accept it like people like sweet things, we are just programmed for it.  However, it doesn't mean you act on those wants, just recognize that it's OK and also recognize that it won't actually make you happier.  Once you go without those things for a while and realize you are just as happy, you will start to change your instincts.  The next time you see a shiny new bike you can appreciate it's design and craftsmanship but also realize that it won't really make that much of a difference compared your current one and that the opportunity cost of getting is not aligned with your current values.

Gone Fishing

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2014, 10:33:35 AM »
The compounding trick was one of my earliest anti-hedonic tools.  I used a factor of 36 for a long time in the early days which I believe was 30 years @12%, pretty aggressive, but it got the point across.  "This coke doesn't cost a $1.50, it costs $54!!!".  Also try calculating expenses based on the time spent working to obtain them, don't forget the tax man's bite which can be huge depending on how much you make.  "That $2000 bike doesn't cost $2000, it costs a month in a cubicle!".  When you use this technique, it is also helpful to think not only about take home pay but also about how long it would take you to replace that amount in your stach thereby delaying your ER.  Don't forget about your frugal muscles, the more you work them, the stronger they get!

FunkyStickman

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2014, 10:57:08 AM »
It's very hard to balance "need" vs. "want" when every single waking moment, you are bombarded with ads that say "never be satisfied" or "you deserve luxury" or whatever.

It's all a load of crap.

You need perspective, and a healthy dose of reality (around here, we call that "facepunches"). You want these things, yes. But why? Every time I see a $2000 bike (I prefer the Rivendell kind, not the plastic-racer-wannabe kind) I remember there's nothing wrong with the one I have. In fact, it's pretty awesome, much better than 99% of the world could ever afford. Companies depend on your dissatisfaction to sell you stuff you don't need.

THat's where the whole idea of "badassity" comes in, and why most people are here at the MMM forum. When you start viewing doing without as "badass" and not "missing out" things start to look better. You learn to be happy with what you have, because things don't make you happy, anyway (it's what you do that makes you happy).

Keep thinking about it, and how much "want" is costing you long-term. Eventually it will click.

neo von retorch

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2014, 12:45:47 PM »
Yeah, I've actually forgotten to do this lately and need to do it again! It's like the "cha-ching" instinct that MMM talks about.

If I spend the time to think about and lust for and maybe even add-to-cart that shiny new thing, but then I say "Well, I'm not going to buy this thing" I think get to think "wow, wanting that STUFF but not buying it is really cool. I liked doing that. It felt good to not buy it!"

Wildflame

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2014, 06:59:33 PM »
I think of my choices explicitly in terms of how much time it will cost me at work.
New bike? Shiny!
Two hundred hours at work to pay for said bike... not so shiny. =(

If after that I still want the damn thing, I buy it. Amazingly, a huge number of things don't pass the "x hours at work" test.

1967mama

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2014, 07:50:12 PM »
Thanks for posting this, OP, I'm right with you on this (sigh) ... So much to learn.

lifejoy

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2014, 09:33:55 PM »
For me, reading a ton of psychological studies about how spending money on stuff doesn't make us happier - that helped. Also, picking role models to look up to that don't look or live fancy schmancy, that helped too. Good luck!!

Nords

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2014, 10:34:09 PM »
I've got pretty much everything I need.

But I still have cravings to buy facier stuff. Upgrading my bike, buying better clothes, more expensive food items.

Why do I still want these things??

I know it will not make me any happier longer term buying upgraded things but I can't help dreaming about owning them?
It's more fantasizing than dreaming.  You have to get tired of the reality of shopping for, buying, maintaining, repairing, and generally being responsible for all of that crap.

If you want to eat higher-quality food or buy higher-quality possessions then that probably has a payoff.  But before you bring home the higher-quality stuff you have to get rid of some of your other crap.  And, of course, you have to be willing to work to pay for the "upgrade".

Or maybe you'll find out that your current possessions will work just dandy for another year or decade.

Goldielocks

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2014, 12:17:42 AM »
I definitely see a correlation between seeing new fancy stuff, such as window shopping, catalogues, advertising, co-workers, family, friends has a huge impact on what I want.

When I don't see it, I think about it less.  Maybe I don't think it exists.  Then the wanting gets replaced with "needs"...  such as - the bottom just fell off my pot and I need another one...  let's go look in my price range...  If I refuse to look at sites or stores that are likely over my budget, and start with shopping at the low end, i will keep moving up until I find what I think will work well.  My key is to try to never see the fancy stuff at all, or dwell on it.

Reading bad reviews about things helps too.   Also, I like "buy it for life" as a first location to look for good suggestions on replacement stuff.

stripey

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 02:27:57 AM »
I successfully stopped buying new clothes this year (not that I bought a lot of clothes compared to many people but still) by picturing the working conditions of people who make the clothes in countries like Bangladesh and China, the environmental impact caused by making the fabrics in the first place, environmental impact of transport to get it to a shop near me, the disposal of old clothes etc etc. It wasn't about the money (although that is an added benefit) but the global impact.

I've expanded that to most things in my life now. I still occasionally buy new things but only if I know we will use it a lot and only if we can't find a secondhand one.

That's pretty much what I have done too. For clothes and some other products, I am really trying to source either Australian made & owned (where the minimum wage is rather high), or fair trade/community supporting. It's making me purchase a lot fewer items (and those items are on average better made but higher priced) and spend a lot more time considering whether I need the product in the first place. I am also trying to cut down how much plastic packaging I bring into the house, particularly for foodstuffs. Seems to have made a huge difference on how much heavily processed food I buy.

enpower

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2014, 03:19:11 AM »
Lots of good ideas here:

- Compound the money into the future which you could save instead
- Base it on how many hours you would have to work
- Think "buy it for life" which means you buy only very rarely but good quality

Over the last few days since posting I have noticed my thinking change already.

MichaelR

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2014, 03:51:19 AM »
Another useful way to think about this is the freedom of having less. See every possession as a weight pulling you down. Think about how much lighter you would feel if you gave them up. Sure you need a certain minimum to live - but everything else is just a burden.

Rural

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2014, 06:09:44 AM »
I'll second the idea to cut as much advertising out of your life as you possibly can. The industry is remarkably successful at making us want stuff we don't actually want at all, and doing it on a level where we don't even realize it's been done to us. Cut off the industry's access to you and you start to see it through its absence.


Yes, this means no TV, but also install AdBlock on your browser.

ender

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2014, 06:23:55 AM »
Write down 5 things you are thankful for each day.

Or 5 reasons you are thankful for each of your more significant purchases.

  • I am thankful my car has no current major mechanical problems
  • I am thankful my car has AC
  • I am thankful my car has a working stereo with 3.5mm input
  • I am thankful my car has the ability to carry large items (such as a chest freezer)
  • I am thankful my car gets 30+ mpg

Etc.

Do that sort of thing enough and you will realize "dang! I really like the things I have! Why would I want something else?!?!?!"

Gmullz

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How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2014, 07:33:50 AM »
Write down 5 things you are thankful for each day.

Or 5 reasons you are thankful for each of your more significant purchases.

  • I am thankful my car has no current major mechanical problems
  • I am thankful my car has AC
  • I am thankful my car has a working stereo with 3.5mm input
  • I am thankful my car has the ability to carry large items (such as a chest freezer)
  • I am thankful my car gets 30+ mpg

Etc.

Do that sort of thing enough and you will realize "dang! I really like the things I have! Why would I want something else?!?!?!"

I like to take this a step further and look at all the things I have and why I don't even need them.

So not only do I have things I like, but I don't even need them. Do I need AC in my car for my climate? Probably not. Do I need power windows? They're nice, but I don't need them.

Why would I buy more stuff when the stuff I have is even more than I need!

Roses

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2014, 01:40:28 AM »
I'll second the idea to cut as much advertising out of your life as you possibly can. The industry is remarkably successful at making us want stuff we don't actually want at all, and doing it on a level where we don't even realize it's been done to us. Cut off the industry's access to you and you start to see it through its absence.

Yes, this means no TV, but also install AdBlock on your browser.

I third this.  I notice I start wanting certain things when I have to walk by a lot of stores with nice window displays.  Or if I read the food section in my local paper, I suddenly really want to try out some new restaurant.

THat's where the whole idea of "badassity" comes in, and why most people are here at the MMM forum. When you start viewing doing without as "badass" and not "missing out" things start to look better.

This too!  After a while you start looking at your stuff with disgust and shame and there are things you just can't wait to get rid of!  I've adopted a 'poor sucker' attitude toward symbols of conspicuous consumption.  When I see someone wearing something that I know is expensive or driving a flashy car, I think 'poor sucker'.  And then I just don't want to be that person.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2014, 05:41:57 AM »
I'll second the idea to cut as much advertising out of your life as you possibly can. The industry is remarkably successful at making us want stuff we don't actually want at all, and doing it on a level where we don't even realize it's been done to us. Cut off the industry's access to you and you start to see it through its absence.

Yes, this means no TV, but also install AdBlock on your browser.
I hadn't thought about this, but I'll Third the idea.  I've used Adblock for over a decade now, and am positively shocked when I'm on someone else's computer who doesn't have it installed.  Remove your exposure, and you'll remove yourself from the temptation.

mattchuck2

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2014, 06:20:39 AM »
Quote from: "Walden" by Thoreau
“It is desirable that a man […] live in all respects so compactly and preparedly that, if an enemy take the town, he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety.”

Sucks for that guy when I speed out the gate on my $2,000 bike and he's just standing there empty handed.

:-D

Rural

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2014, 06:47:53 AM »
Quote from: "Walden" by Thoreau
“It is desirable that a man […] live in all respects so compactly and preparedly that, if an enemy take the town, he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety.”

Sucks for that guy when I speed out the gate on my $2,000 bike and he's just standing there empty handed.

:-D


Until somebody shoots you for the bike, that is.

enpower

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2014, 06:46:05 PM »
So then how do you decide if it will add meaning and benefit to your life?

i.e. you decide you want to ride a bike instead of driving all the time.

So do you therefore "need" a bike? Or do you "want" a bike?

And then, how do you decide which one to get? A rusty old one which will do the same thing, a mid range comfortable one, or a really good one that will last many years and the cost/enjoyment factor will be high?

FunkyStickman

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Re: How to get off the Hedonic Treadmill?
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2014, 09:08:15 AM »
So then how do you decide if it will add meaning and benefit to your life?

i.e. you decide you want to ride a bike instead of driving all the time.

So do you therefore "need" a bike? Or do you "want" a bike?

And then, how do you decide which one to get? A rusty old one which will do the same thing, a mid range comfortable one, or a really good one that will last many years and the cost/enjoyment factor will be high?

The difference is, you get an item best suited to the job you want it to do, and also will forward you toward financial independence. Multiple uses/benefits are even better, i.e. getting a bike not only saves you money from driving your car, it also saves money by giving you exercise, reducing your medical bills, and so on.

I can spend $2000 on a bike that will last me 20 years that does everything I need it to and works well, or I can spend $200 every 2 years on something that will need constant repair and cause frustration. Financially, they come out the same, but one of them will make your life easier and more efficient.

You have to think long-term. For the record, I don't *need* a bike, but I *do* need exercise. I choose to further my badassity by saving money and increasing my fitness at the same time.

There is definitely a bell curve for cost/benefit in most manufactured goods. I shoot for the low end of the upswing on the curve, i.e. to me, a $2000 bike doesn't work twice as well as a $1000 bike. A $60K car doesn't work twice as well as a $30K car. It's better, yes, but is that betterment increasing your financial independence, when a $30K car will do the job perfectly well, be cheaper to operate, and last longer?