Thursday, January 17, 2019

Luxury May Be Making You Unhappy

On one side we have deprivation. Webster defines this as the state of being kept from possessing, enjoying, or using something

On the other side we have luxury a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort

Most of us spend most of our lives trying to move from deprivation to luxury. But should we be?

I think most of us will agree that deprivation is not a great state to be in. We naturally seek things that will make us happy: great experiences, wealth, freedom. So we strive to have more and earn more.

But is luxury, way on the other side of deprivation, something to strive for? In general its not a bad idea. But be careful about going too far down the luxury path. MMM, had a great visual with his "catheter and a bedpan" example. I'll paraphrase:
In life we seek comfort. So let's start out by sitting on the couch and watching TV. That's pretty relaxing right? Well let's make it more comfortable. Let's give you a Snuggie and some soft slippers, a nice warm beverage and some pizza within arms reach. To make things even more convenient let's give you an iPad so you have a second thing to watch if you get bored. And changing the channels is pretty annoying so let's add some voice activation so you can change the channel by just talking. Finally, instead of having to get up and get more food or go to the bathroom how about we hook it up with a catheter and a bedpan, and a friend or robot could bring you all your food on the couch
 A contrived example to show that luxury (aka great ease and comfort) will make things worse at some point. We can clearly see it in the extreme example above but if we examine the luxuries in our daily lives, I think we can find some examples of how that luxury that we initially find welcoming, could be sapping a bit of happiness. I'll list a few examples of common ones:

One of the big ones I've noticed is walking. People refuse to walk anymore. With Uber and Lyft we can summon a car to any street corner. So rather than walk 2 miles, which everyone w/o a disability should be capable of, people will pay $10 for the luxury of being driven. It is much faster so it might be necessary sometimes but for the other times: you already don't get enough exercise so the walking would healthy and great for body & mind and on top of that you get paid $10 (remember money saved is >= than money earned)

The iPad. The iPad might be a symbol of luxury because a) it is really expensive and b) it provides you the convenience to consume media, with much more ease than a laptop. So how is this luxury bad? Well first off most of us work for our money so buying anything costs us a part of our lives. Then, (and I'm heavily biased as a maker, but that's the point of this article, for us to each look into our luxuries and think about pros and cons for ourselves), for starters its a consumption oriented device so its more difficult to make things with. An iPad doesn't have a keyboard so it is much harder to input, which makes it harder to create things such as emails, website, code, etc. unless there is an app specific for making the thing you want. Consuming media itself can be good, but there is a point of going too far; we all know how the hangover after a Netflix binge feels.

So the point of this is not to say that all luxuries are bad but to say they can be bad and to open our eyes an examine cases for yourself. The default auto-pilot seems to be that more luxury == good, so if you even stop to consider that this might not be true sometimes, you'll be better off.