What is a life well lived?
Here I raise the question, but end up with more questions than answers.
the person that dies with the most friends, wins
A portion of the truth must be that there are people who are good people, who had good stories, who did good in the world, had a positive impact.
There have been movements indicating too much stuff. This could be a sign that we are at a peak of production. The general feeling is that we have too much stuff.
We see this in different movements like minimalism, anti-consumerism, permaculture. Off the grid living forums, while they do talk about having a lot of new gear, there is there even an element of paring down to the essentials. Tiny house movements. Boat living. The tech nomad...which was maybe 15 years ago back in the early 2000s. I mean even recent culture traces that to the movie Fight Club. I imagine the era of Maslow's Hierachy of Needs had similar sentiments. Long distance camping and backpacking. Adventure around the world.
They all have their own kind of spin on it, but one commonality is that increasing consumption of material goods, of stuff, is not the answer to increased happiness.
We already have enough stuff.
If we have enough stuff, then why do we feel unhappy?
- Do we not have the right stuff? -> heritage, recycled, contribute to cancer fund
- Need better stuff? -> same, but more features
- Or is the answer not stuff at all? -> experiences? oh okay, like purchase a vacation?
Eventually, you figure that there are things that are non-monetary.
Some people chase status, which is also incomplete.
These last three might be closer to the truth. Like any complex issue, there are multiple potential things going wrong, perhaps you are buying the wrong stuff (salad spinners, single use kitchen items, an upgraded mouse), and need to buy not stuff (save for a vacation, put money towards starting a business, a weekend cabin trip with family you like, friends).
How did we get here?
I am not writing an article about why that is stupid though. It actually does make sense. If going from no money to some money was good, going to a lot of money is better and going to even more money must be better still right? Similarly, if having no food was bad, having some food, now having better food, maybe even the best kinds of artistically created food is even better.
Buying more stuff does improve life satisfaction to a point, but when you are beyond that point, spending even more becomes both ineffective and wasteful.
You can imagine at some point, we go from manufactured fast food, to whole foods, to designer meals (blue apron?), to full artistic meal experiences (fun), but at some point the nutrition was increasing, reached a peak, and then the rest of the money was going to just branding, marketing, and emotion.
Meal experience --like happiness in life-- are available without a ton of money.
At some point, expense no longer remains the driver of quality of experience.
experiences > things
stories > expenses
active > passive
ride up grades > upgrades