You never know where or when an idea for a post is going to pop up. In this case, it was from an article from Wired.com entitled “Why Money Makes You Unhappy” by Jonah Lehrer (I think I prefer the saying, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure quiets your nerves”).
Lehrer says that once you’re out of poverty that how rich you are has little to do with how happy you are or how satisfied you are with life. The phrase “experience-stretching hypothesis” comes from Daniel Gilbert and says, in essence, that too much of a good thing reduces – even kills – the pleasure we once took in something when we only had a little of it. Food tastes best to a hungry man; one who is satiated finds little interest in even one bite of gourmet cooking.
When you work in a chocolate factory, they let you eat all you want, knowing that after the first week you won’t want to so much as look at a Hershey’s Kiss after that.
Lehrer cites the Amish, who live life very simply but who record very high levels of happiness. He compares them with modern consumers who chase after the latest car or electronic gadget but who aren’t any the happier for it.
It made me think about a life in music. In my early days of being completely committed to music study, I was ravenous for every bit of music experience. I couldn’t get up early enough, practice late enough, couldn’t wait until tomorrow to start all over again. Even after I got my orchestra job – dream of a lifetime fulfilled! – I still kept at it; I even practiced during orchestra breaks, for years. I was buffaloed by the attitude of a lot of the older players who had been at it for decades. They barely seemed interested in music at all. During breaks they talked about their new sailboat or car, not Mozart or Beethoven. When I came back from a week at a brass workshop, not a single person had any interest in my experience there. I declared I would never be like them.