Prepare yourself because it is only going to get worse. The giant marketing machine that is the modern media will become even more pervasive and insidious as technology continues to evolve. There will be nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. If you live at all in the digital world the drumbeat for material consumption and accumulation will never stop. Through electronic tracking and sophisticated algorithms you will be increasingly targeted. The goal, of course, is to forever separate you from your hard earned money by keeping you on the Hedonic Treadmill.
In terms of materialism, the Hedonic Treadmill means that “enough will never be enough.” In other words, corporations are well aware that it is human nature to become accustomed to higher and higher levels of material existence and wealth. The tendency then, is to seek out further improvements and upgrades to maintain a certain level of satisfaction and enjoyment. As if on a treadmill, anyone who assesses their identity through material means will never really get further ahead in this regard; one’s self-worth will always spring back to par, thus the need for constant consumption to maintain worthiness, status and pride.
It will behoove all men who value their independence and freedom to become aware of the nonstop marketing campaign attempting to program them to consume and accumulate. They are depending on the conditioned belief that you will base your success on the status associated with material possession and display. And they are specifically targeting our women even more intensely.
The marketers are aware of and willfully leverage the fact that women in the west and many other cultures are responsible for the vast majority of consumer spending. These same women for whom many of us naturally aim to please through our earning power and the display of status and prestige.
Indicator #1 That You Are On The Hedonic Treadmill
There is certainly nothing wrong with material possession in and of itself. A nice home, a performance automobile, fine clothing, gourmet dining, vacations and live entertainment can certainly add to the quality of our existence. However, as with many aspects of life it is the context within which we purchase and enjoy these things that determine their appropriateness.
If you are living in your dream home and driving your dream vehicle, but do not have a year’s expenses in the bank this is indicator number one that you are on the Hedonic Treadmill. You have sold out your financial security and perhaps your financial solvency for material possession. In this globalist world of corporate consolidation, buyouts and downsizing you are one stroke of the pen away from a world of hurt.
And if you have a woman or a family that is dependent on you, you have sold them out for the immediate pride of material status as well. Despite the best of intentions, you have put the ownership of material things above the financial security of your loved ones. If this is the case, step off the Treadmill and employ the appropriate financial restraint to get yourself to the point of having a solid one year of f-you money in the bank.
Indicator #2 That You Are On The Hedonic Treadmill
The second indicator that you are on the Hedonic Treadmill is if your net worth does not improve every month. By definition then you are spending up to and perhaps beyond your income. In other words, you have failed to control your standard of living so that you make consistent financial gains in exchange for your labor.
No matter your level of income, it is simply a matter of financial propriety to adjust one’s overhead and expenses so that improvement is made on a consistent basis. A wise man that wishes to remain independent and in control of his life will make sure he gets to keep a portion of every paycheck. Every penny earned should not go right back out the door to pay the bills.
The effort to cash flow on a monthly basis is the foundation for all that ails you financially. If you are in debt, you’ve now got the means to free yourself. Then, once you are relieved of consumer debt you can make a run for your f-you stash. And from there you can invest perpetually until you achieve financial independence.
Costs Of The Hedonic Treadmill
Living your life on the Hedonic Treadmill will take its toll over the years. Likely to be negatively affected are your health, values and the limited time we all have in this life for what really matters.
Living a highly leveraged financial life will create stress that will add up and manifest itself in many unhealthy ways. Many will spend too much of their time working for and worrying about feeding the beast that is the Treadmill.
How many men have you seen that have luxurious homes and cars, but couldn’t lightly bound up a couple of flights of stairs without gasping for air? Looking at them, it is obvious they have sold out their health in pursuit of career and the impressive display of success. One wonders sometimes, what else has been sacrificed for this material gain if something as important as basic health has been shortchanged.
Be wary, because if the Hedonic Treadmill has become your master it will always push aside anything else that threatens its rule. Ultimately men will do many things to maintain appearances if they are without a solid core of principles. Avoid this trap by focusing on implicit values rather than explicit consumption and it will be much easier to do the right thing when difficulties arise.
And no matter who you are on this planet, the one limited commodity we all possess is time. Spend your time wisely. Work hard and work smart to provide for yourself and your family. Put in all the long hours necessary. After all, a man needs to provide food, shelter and a measure of financial security for his loved ones. But beware of burning the clock simply for material benefit. Remember, enough will never be enough. Make quality of life a priority over the Hedonic Treadmill.
Quality Of Life Alternatives To The Hedonic Treadmill
Put material accumulation and consumption aside for more meaningful and enduring pursuits. Focus on accomplishment, experience and financial independence instead. These are not mutually exclusive to owning and experiencing some of the finer things in life, but should simply take precedence.
Create a Life Mission to guide you each day and pursue accomplishment and meaningful experience. Add some value to the world by setting goals and getting things done. Some of these things might even end up financing the luxuries that appeal to you, but this is simply an aside to a substantive life as a man.
Accumulation for its own sake is an empty pursuit. Reward for accomplishment, however, will have lasting value and represent more than just empty status and pride. Anyone can buy themselves a trophy; earning one on the other hand will make it a representation of integrity, performance and character.
And if you are to pursue the almighty dollar, do it for financial independence. Focus on freedom and opportunity rather than the ostentatious display of material wealth. Have the courage to live below your means and improve your net worth. In the long run, you may indeed be able to afford the luxuries you desire. But will be done in the right order and for the right reasons.
Beware Of The Seduction
It is very easy and seductive to fall for the lure of measuring one’s self-worth through material means. All it takes is a simple transaction and there can be immediate gratification. Every man qualifies as long as he has the cash in hand or available credit.
Be very careful here, even if you don’t consider yourself a materialistic person. Ubiquitous credit along with the natural desire to please your woman can slyly ease you into suffocating debt and a never ending cycle on the Hedonic Treadmill.
No matter who you are you can dress, drive and live in luxury if the bank is willing to finance it. After all, if you’ve got the credit you’ve earned the right to these things say a life’s worth of advertisements. This is what we are told every day as we are bombarded by the corporate marketers. Everything around you validates this kind of thinking. Why should you deny yourself?
Primarily, you should deny yourself because of the soul stealing nature of the Hedonic Treadmill. If you value who you are through material means, it will mean an empty life in the long run. You will have sold out your independence, health and values to a lifestyle that will never really satisfy you. And you will become a slave to your employer, the next greatest purchase and the debt that it creates.
Instead, play the long game and be smart. Separate yourself from the masses by pursuing intrinsic wealth. Have the character to brush aside the superficial path. Focus on accomplishment and experience and adjust your financial overhead and expenses so that you’re a man in control of his life. Do not become a slave to debt and the display of status. Beware of the Hedonic Treadmill.
All the best,
This article was originally published on ReturnOfKings.com.