09 Mar 22

The disease of more

Life is not a checklist, it is an economy.

This post by Mark Manson about the "hedonic treadmill" resonated with me.

He questions our culture of constant self-improvement and always striving for more, noting that these goals are of our own creation and often lead to us not enjoying what we've already accomplished.

Instead, even when we've become successful adults living comfortable lives, we're still running a race towards an elusive "next step". This distraction, he says, often leads to shifting our attention to "dopamine hits" that lowers our performance on the actual activities we're good at.

It's probably not true that everyone should care less about self improvement. He notes that young people go through a natural period of intense learning and development, and as an immigrant I do believe that if I'm not on top of my game and work a bit harder than everyone else, I may lose my spot.

But his argument resonates a lot with my experience in tech, where we are all so lucky to be making cushy incomes on things we love to do, and somehow still pressure each other so much to be building side projects, getting promotions, doing talks etc. when we could all just be chilling and enjoying our 6-figure incomes a bit more.

His quote that "life is not a checklist, not a mountain to be escalated, but an economy", is a useful framing: life is about tradeoffs, and the time you decide to be thinking about your next goal could be spent loving your family, living your current success, etc.


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