Get Off The Hedonic Treadmill – See Your Friends Regularly

The post A Mercedes Benz or a best friend? Hmmm…. by Colin Beavan has very little to do with Colin’s blog, I grabbed onto it because of his question “who doesn’t feel a tension between the time it takes to sustain their personal relationships and the time it takes to “get ahead”?” as he relates it to the hedonic treadmill theory.

When I was driven by a lust for money I figured that I was putting my relationships on hold temporarily and would, as a result of getting ahead, have enough money to free up the time to work on them later. It is equal parts brilliant and ridiculous. Brilliant for the few people that are able to make this approach work for them and retire young and ridiculous for the rest of us who work out our lives in vain sacrifice. But we do it because we have learned that this is how it works.

At some point my mind became aware of what I was doing and I started to consider my role in the whole thing. I made some changes after I considered what I want out of life and am now actively doing the things that I need to do.

I think that is a part of what Colin is getting at. Having become aware of the experience of not seeing his best friend, he’s seen the relationship between working hard as measured by sacrificing personal relationships and getting ahead as measured by job, creative and academic successes. One has the immediate known reward of seeing the people you like while the other has a delayed unknown reward of whatever achieving these successes will bring you. This reminded me of shortcut one from Happiness Is A Choice – make happiness a priority.

With regards to finally getting to hang out with his best friend, Colin says

Yesterday, at last, Tanner and I debriefed about our marriages, our work, people we know in common, hot chicks we saw on the street, the first coffee I was having in three weeks (social exception from the local food rule), movie stars, our therapists, computers, and politics. I felt, after all that time without each other, like a dry sponge soaking up water.

Sounds like they had fun and, for an afternoon at least, they both got off the treadmill.

Do You Know Art When You See It? Bouncy Balls: The Sony Bravia Commercial

About a month ago Des had some people over to play guitar. As is the case with most of these evenings everyone sits around chatting and getting caught-up before we play a lick. And we usually have a few drinks.

The TV was on in the back ground and something like Media Television was doing a special on recent commercials that were worth watching. When the segment featuring the Sony Bravia commercial with the superballs bunching down a couple of San Francisco Streets everyone in the room stopped talking. The commercial features José González’s song Heartbeats, a moving acoustic guitar gem, and 250000 brightly colored superballs. The show played the extended version of the commercial which is about 2:02 long and only referenced the product during the last 10 seconds.

Like I said, we were speechless. It is a beautiful way to spend 2 minutes of your life and a couple of things stood out about the experience.

Watching it, everyone knew there was something different or important about it. Visually, we had never seen anything like it before in my life. The balls looked like they were swarming and had a collective consciousness that directed their movement. The shadows that the balls threw to the ground added to the overwhelling visual stimulation. This was a brand new visual experience and I think everyone gained a huge insite into some of the untaped power that our eyes hold.

Listening to it I realized that Heartbeats was one of the songs that I had on my mp3 player during my trip to the east coast last summer and I had listen to it a lot. But I had never heard it in the context of passive stimulation before, always when I was riding my bike. When it was paired with what was happening on the screen, I appreciated the lyrics for their beauty and for the feelings they are attempting to capture.

It was such a collectively moving experience that I concluded that it must have been art. I’m not sure if you’ll agree, but I’m pretty certain that you’ll enjoy the commercial.

For more information about the commercial and how it was made, visit the Bouncy Balls: The BRAVIA Commercial site.

NOTE: the video does take a while to load depending upon your internet speed.