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.