More is never enough– Ramp Capital
20 November 2019
My pastor delivered an informational sermon this past Sunday that I wanted to pass along. You don’t have to be religious to relate to this story.
We’ve been trying to go to church more recently. As a kid, my parents made us go to church every Sunday. I was the Ferris Bueller of wanting to attend church, except that I only successfully dodged it 0% of the time. I even complained about going this past Sunday although I had zero reasons not to attend. After hearing the sermon, though, I’m really glad that I went.
The pastor gave his sermon on gratitude and hedonism. He started his sermon by discussing hedonism—which is defined as living a life with the main goal of achieving pleasure and happiness. He noted that our bodies were designed and built for pleasure and while there is nothing wrong with experiencing these feelings, it should not be our sole purpose in life.
He told a story about a billionaire who owned many gold plated vehicles and no matter how many additional vehicles he bought or drove, his happiness was short-lived and fleeting. At that point in the sermon, I looked over at my wife and whispered “hedonic treadmill”.
Right after I whispered this, the pastor echoed me and said “this is known as the hedonic treadmill”. My wife, unimpressed, gave me a little pat on the back like I correctly answered the Final Jeopardy question.
I discovered the concept of the hedonic treadmill this year after reading The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby and The Geometry of Wealth by Brian Portnoy. Both books are behavioral investing books that discuss how making more money and buying more things do not give us everlasting happiness and joy.
As we collect and consume more things, our expectations and desires rise in tandem. The gain in happiness and pleasure is relative, not absolute. We’re always searching for more.
Recalling the lessons I had learned from my previous readings, I was hoping my pastor would give us the answer to finding fulfillment and joy in our lives. His answer was simple: Gratitude and a life of service will give you peace and joy.
The pastor also made a great point about how to be grateful in times of despair. For instance, imagine that you are sick in the hospital. While you are obviously not grateful for the situation, you should be grateful for the doctors and the medicine and the care that you will receive. Also, you should feel thankful that you are hopefully surrounded by friends and family during the healing process.
With regards to leading a life of service, think about the last time you gave someone your time and attention or helped someone in need. How did you feel in that moment? Even just thinking about those moments can rekindle a feeling of joy.
There are studies that show that people who are grateful have lower risks of heart disease, sleep better, and have lower levels of inflammation. A positive mental attitude can also fend off stress, depression, and anxiety. Typically, I’d just take a dropper of CBD to cure all of these ailments, but now I’m considering starting a gratitude journal.
Part of the reason we struggle with focusing on gratitude—or anything for that matter— is because we are surrounded by hyper-stimulating content on a consistent basis. These constant stimulations give us quick dopamine hits where we experience brief moments of pleasure and happiness. This is mostly due to our over-reliance on social media platforms and entertainment.
The new trend by tech bros in Silicon Valley is “dopamine fasting”. With the thought being if we lower our baseline level of dopamine, we will appreciate things more when we return back to our normal lives. Do we need to take it to this level though? What if we just focused more on being grateful every day instead of trying another productivity hack? Seems much easier to write down things that you are grateful for rather than starve yourself and stare at a wall all day trying to have the least amount of fun as humanly possible.
I thought this was a timely discussion with the holiday season quickly approaching. I’m grateful for you reading this far and hopefully paying it forward.
- Gratitude can increase happiness and health and lead to everlasting joy.
- Lead a life of service to feel fulfillment and joy.
- Our bodies were built for pleasure. But, living a life that only focuses on pleasure is unfulfilling.
- More is never enough.
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