Hedonic treadmill in retirement

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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:36 pm

alisa4804 wrote:
I am planning to walk el Camino of Santiago de Compostela in spring


Victoria, I'm really looking forward to hearing about your experience on this walk. I hope you have checked the weather and learned that spring is not too early (weather?), but suspect you have done your research!

One item on my bucket list is being at the Pantheon in Rome at Pentecost to see the rose petals dropped thru the open oculus, as a sign of the Holy Spirit - apparently the local firemen climb the building to assist with the rose petals.


I'll be happy to report.

I have joined a local (D.C.) group of those who have walked El Camino or are planning to do so. People have different stories, some walked it piece-wise, others walked only the last 100 km, still the others walked the entire French Path but used supporting vehicles. I want to walk The French Path in one go and stay in refugios. A few months ago I started carrying a 30-lb backpack for a few hours at a time, and at this time I am confident that I will be able to do it. On El Camino I will be carrying much less than 30 lb, but I cannot recreate the Pyrenees here and am compensating this way.

I will be starting in Spring, because I don't want to rush and still be able to finish in time for an event in Cambridge in May. The most challenging part will probably be the first day or two in the Pyrenees, especially if there is still snow. But cool weather is far better than the summer heat. Also, challenges of walking in the mountains will alleviate any postpartum syndromes.

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby dickenjb » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:53 pm

Victoria I have been retired since 2010. I also planned a lot of activities for my first year and booked the trips etc.

I have not run into the problem you describe. Every year keeps getting better.

Have you looked at Road Scholar? I have been on 4 of their programs (hiking Grand Canyon NP, hiking Big Bend NP, 2x hiking Great Smoky Mountains NP). You meet some very interesting and learned people on RS programs. It is not unusual for a dinner table of 12 to include 3 MD's, a psychiatrist, and 3 or 4 PhD's. I find the combination of physical activity during the day and mental stimulation in the evening to be very enjoyable. RS programs are usually pretty economical also.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby EternalOptimist » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:56 pm

Victoria, I retired 2 years ago after 40 years on the large corporate treadmill. I made no specific plans for my retirement as playing tennis is a huge passion of mine and occupies a good amount of my time. I must say the initial months were a bit of a challenge with the complete freedom but I adjusted fine playing tennis, some traveling and volunteer work. I'm pretty laid back by nature so I enjoy letting the day come to me. My days of huge plans and commitments I think are behind me. It's totally cool just hanging out spending time with my wife (she still works) and daughter. As far as I'm concerned "it's all good" and my life is blessed. I would say be careful not to expect complete happiness everyday as that is a tall order. Good luck, relax and enjoy it all, I'm sure you will love it.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:59 pm

dickenjb wrote:Victoria I have been retired since 2010. I also planned a lot of activities for my first year and booked the trips etc.

I have not run into the problem you describe. Every year keeps getting better.

Have you looked at Road Scholar? I have been on 4 of their programs (hiking Grand Canyon NP, hiking Big Bend NP, 2x hiking Great Smoky Mountains NP). You meet some very interesting and learned people on RS programs. It is not unusual for a dinner table of 12 to include 3 MD's, a psychiatrist, and 3 or 4 PhD's. I find the combination of physical activity during the day and mental stimulation in the evening to be very enjoyable. RS programs are usually pretty economical also.


dickenjb,

When I lived in NJ, I hiked with the Appalachian Mountain Club and Catskills 3500 Club. But when I travel I usually hike independently. Perhaps, I should look into Road Scholar as something to try.

Thank you,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:05 pm

EternalOptimist wrote:Victoria, I retired 2 years ago after 40 years on the large corporate treadmill. I made no specific plans for my retirement as playing tennis is a huge passion of mine and occupies a good amount of my time. I must say the initial months were a bit of a challenge with the complete freedom but I adjusted fine playing tennis, some traveling and volunteer work. I'm pretty laid back by nature so I enjoy letting the day come to me. My days of huge plans and commitments I think are behind me. It's totally cool just hanging out spending time with my wife (she still works) and daughter. As far as I'm concerned "it's all good" and my life is blessed. I would say be careful not to expect complete happiness everyday as that is a tall order. Good luck, relax and enjoy it all, I'm sure you will love it.

EternalOptimist,

You have pointed two of my main concerns, how would complete freedom influence me and how to maximize happiness without expecting too much.

Best wishes for your retirement,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby Levett » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:47 pm

Victoria asked:

"Do you have any recommendations for how to look for the answer?"

I have thought about you all afternoon and into this evening--a measure of my regard for you.

I am in basic agreement with Fallible. You should consider a transition to retirement plan and not cut off employment and professional interaction with colleagues whose company you enjoy. To cut off employment abruptly in my view (under the circumstances) might make for an unnecessarily difficult beginning to what should be a joyous restart.

The finances can be in place, but so must be the mind.

Not all of us are made for rapid retirement. Some of us need to ease our way in, if we have the choice.

Just as we cannot travel our way from who we are, so we cannot retire our way from who we were.

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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby retdinsb » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:36 pm

I retired in January of this year at age 58 with many of the same concerns expressed in this thread. After 34 years as an Engineer I was concerned with cutting the cord. I did put together a plan for some travel/classes/etc. I had a list of over 30 items that I either needed or wanted to address and it continues to grow. After 7 months, I don't know when I found time to work.

For me, being flexible is very important. Some days the plan goes out the window because of some unexpected opportunity. Being retired has allowed my to pick and choose what I want to spend my time doing.

No regrets. It's been better than expected.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby HomerJ » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:54 am

VictoriaF wrote:Is it possible that by having a perfect year, I will step on a Hedonic Treadmill and won't be happy in the future years unless I match and exceed the 2014 experiences (and expenses)?


It's certainly possible... My wife and I took our "trip of a lifetime" visit to Rome and Greece a few years ago...

But now she's already planning our second "trip of a lifetime" to go back.

Maybe you should stay home all 2014 so you don't ruin your 2015... :)
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:14 am

Levett wrote:I am in basic agreement with Fallible.


Hi Lev,

I know where you and Fallible are coming from. I will respond later off-line.

Thank you for thinking of me,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:15 am

retdinsb wrote:No regrets. It's been better than expected.


Thank you, retdinsb.

Best wishes for your continuing pleasure,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:16 am

HomerJ wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Is it possible that by having a perfect year, I will step on a Hedonic Treadmill and won't be happy in the future years unless I match and exceed the 2014 experiences (and expenses)?


It's certainly possible... My wife and I took our "trip of a lifetime" visit to Rome and Greece a few years ago...

But now she's already planning our second "trip of a lifetime" to go back.

Maybe you should stay home all 2014 so you don't ruin your 2015... :)


You made me laugh on Monday morning. Thanks!

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby AnimalCrackers » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:03 pm

SnapShots wrote:DH was born to be retired.


I am now giving a greater-than-zero amount of consideration to obtaining for myself a "Born To Be Retired" tattoo.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby reggiesimpson » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:10 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
reggiesimpson wrote:Methinks you will "adjust" to any difficulties that may arise. Meaning you have the ability to refocus and not dwell.
Life is short...........go for it.


Thank you, reggie, ... but I am afraid what I am doing now is dwelling.

Victoria

The antidote to "dwelling?". Start shifting and lighten your load.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby Caduceus » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:38 pm

I don't know the theory behind the hedonic treadmill, but maybe certain things are not really susceptible to the effect of diminishing returns of happiness? I can see how cars might be like a treadmill ... one gets a new car, is excited, and then sees it every day and gets bored.

But with books for instance - retirement means lots of time to READ! :) - every new read is a wonder. With travel, the possibilities are endless because no experience is the same, so even if you had this crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experience, the likelihood that it can't be matched or topped for similar/less expenses is slim (I'm quite optimistic when it comes to experiences!)

Also, I would be glad to be just on the same level of happiness as long as it were a moderate level. Not being sad/stressed would have an immense value to me.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby 3CT_Paddler » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:40 pm

Victoria, I enjoyed this article and thought it applicable...

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archi ... py/266805/

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing," Frankl wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
...
"To the European," Frankl wrote, "it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to 'be happy.' But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy.'"
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby Levett » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:03 pm

3CT--

A copy of Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning has a home on my study desk--always within reach should I stray.

I was introduced to the book in the mid-60s by a psychology prof.

It has no equal.

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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:16 pm

3CT_Paddler wrote:Victoria, I enjoyed this article and thought it applicable...

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archi ... py/266805/

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing," Frankl wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
...
"To the European," Frankl wrote, "it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to 'be happy.' But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy.'"


3CT_Paddler,

This is a good article. It contrasts happiness described as a selfish pursuit from the societal perspective and meaning that involves sacrifice on behalf of the group. When I was reading it I felt somewhat defensive, because this thread is more about the former than the latter. But I think happiness and meaning are interwoven and can't be cleanly separated. In fact, I don't think one can be happy without having meaning in his life. And the issue underlying my messages is not whether I would be physically comfortable but whether I would feel satisfied at a deeper level. Having new experiences in 2014 and beyond may help me defining new meaning.

Thank you,
Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby SGM » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:16 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Is it possible that by having a perfect year, I will step on a Hedonic Treadmill and won't be happy in the future years unless I match and exceed the 2014 experiences (and expenses)?


Here is an applicable quote from the great long playing pitcher Satchel Paige. "You win a few. You lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for all of them."
"Let us endeavor, so to live, that when we die, even the undertaker will be sorry." Mark Twain
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby Toons » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:24 pm

Levett wrote:3CT--

A copy of Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning has a home on my study desk--always within reach should I stray.

I was introduced to the book in the mid-60s by a psychology prof.

It has no equal.

Lev


+1 Man's Search for Meaning Superb Book :happy
Along with that I periodically re read Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
Aside from the books Maslow's hierarchy of Needs has significant meaning to me,it is all about choices,wants and needs :happy
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:52 am

VictoriaF wrote:I am planning to retire in early 2014. As the date approaches, I am realizing that I am not as nonchalant about it as I thought I was. And so I decided to force my hand by planning for 2014 time/effort/money-intensive activities that would be more alluring than the benefits of continuing working. I also decided to allocate some money to the "2014 fun fund" that would remove financial constraints from my choices of activities.

My 2014 schedule is developing nicely, but now I am thinking that it may work too well. Is it possible that by having a perfect year, I will step on a Hedonic Treadmill and won't be happy in the future years unless I match and exceed the 2014 experiences (and expenses)?

Victoria


Hey, great! Congratulations! A few thoughts (I am 5 1/2 years into retirement):

1. "Hedonic treadmill" (great term) seems to be way more relevant if you are working and supporting a family, as people accumulate more and more stuff. If anything, I think that after retiring the more common psychological reaction is to realize all the stuff you really don't need. Besides, if you are susceptible to that kind of thinking that puts you on a hedonistic treadmill, you should know by now. If you have not lived your life that way up until now, I wouldn't worry about starting when you retire. We can't answer that for you. Know yourself.

2. The purpose of retiring is to reduce stress. If the whole idea of retiring is very stressful , maybe you should think twice. Some people are definitely more stress-free when they work. Again, a personality question only you can answer.

3. Since retiring, I have surprised myself when I see at the end of the year how LITTLE money I have spent (especially compared with when I was working and married), yet I don't deny myself much and live quite well. In my case there are many mitigating factors, including spending my winters in a place where it is almost impossible to spend much money, as well as other personal factors. But you might be surprised to find the same. I don't formally budget, because it seems like I am living below my means anyway, and I don't feel at a loss for anything, so budgeting is not how I choose to spend my time.

4. I don't have a bucket list. I don't think I need one. I'm happy without one, and busy enough doing the things I do. I also don't read books about it. I just go with the flow, like I imagine most people used to do. But that's me.

5. If you want to know specifics that I have learned from my experience with early retirement, feel free to ask me specific questions and I will be glad to help.
Last edited by protagonist on Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:23 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:17 am

3CT_Paddler wrote:Victoria, I enjoyed this article and thought it applicable...

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archi ... py/266805/




This from the article (published in 2013): "At this writing, Gallup also reports that nearly 60 percent all Americans today feel happy, without a lot of stress or worry. On the other hand, according to the Center for Disease Control, about 4 out of 10 Americans have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Forty percent either do not think their lives have a clear sense of purpose or are neutral about whether their lives have purpose"

I wonder how much those numbers (if they are at all valid, and I would seriously question that) vary as a function of time- if the same questions were asked in the past in the same way. Were people significantly happier during the halcyon days of the Clinton era, when unemployment was at record lows, gas bottomed out at under a dollar a gallon, crime and drug use was plummeting, the world was still benefiting from the "peace dividend", the economy was booming, the budget was balanced, markets were soaring, there was much less fear of terrorism, etc?

Or does it mostly boil down to genetics? My anecdotal experience is that some people just seem to figure it out- how to coexist with the rest of the universe- and others never do, no matter how hard they try, independent from external conditions.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby srinivas » Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:55 am

Hi Victoria,

How exciting that you are on the threshold of a time in your life that will afford you greater freedoms! In reading through the uniformly thoughtful responses, it appears that your question has been, or is being, largely answered.

The following two links, while not appearing to answer your question directly, might, I humbly hope, be of added value in preparing for and enjoying this part of your journey:
More directly to your question: A net positive gain in the level of happiness whether in retirement or other phases of our lives will require, I suspect, very significant paradigm shifts for most of us. In other words, the potential risk associated with the hedonic treadmill set in motion by a "perfect 2014" is likely to be more around sustaining a certain level of variety in the activities you pursue (in order to keep your retirement continually alluring) and less around inherently affecting your level of happiness in either direction. Which is to say, a great 2014 followed by relatively less-great years is unlikely to make you less happy.

Best wishes on a fulfilling retirement :)

Edit: First link is redundant; didn't realize that until after re-reading the thread after making this post.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:12 am

protagonist wrote:Hey, great! Congratulations! A few thoughts (I am 5 1/2 years into retirement):


Hi protagonist,

protagonist wrote:1. "Hedonic treadmill" (great term) seems to be way more relevant if you are working and supporting a family, as people accumulate more and more stuff. If anything, I think that after retiring the more common psychological reaction is to realize all the stuff you really don't need. Besides, if you are susceptible to that kind of thinking that puts you on a hedonistic treadmill, you should know by now. If you have not lived your life that way up until now, I wouldn't worry about starting when you retire. We can't answer that for you. Know yourself.


Hedonic treadmill is not limited to acquisition of things. It's about people becoming happier from various improvements in their lives, then their happiness returning to the base level, and people seeking further improvements to recreate the feeling.

Know yourself is easy to say but hard to do. And asking others is not as pointless as you imply. (See Cinghiale's comments above.)

protagonist wrote:2. The purpose of retiring is to reduce stress. If the whole idea of retiring is very stressful , maybe you should think twice. Some people are definitely more stress-free when they work. Again, a personality question only you can answer.


Stress is not necessarily the primary reason for wanting to retire; it's not in my case.

protagonist wrote:3. Since retiring, I have surprised myself when I see at the end of the year how LITTLE money I have spent (especially compared with when I was working and married), yet I don't deny myself much and live quite well. In my case there are many mitigating factors, including spending my winters in a place where it is almost impossible to spend much money, as well as other personal factors. But you might be surprised to find the same. I don't formally budget, because it seems like I am living below my means anyway, and I don't feel at a loss for anything, so budgeting is not how I choose to spend my time.


I might be surprised by spending less than I think I would. But right now I am trying to anticipate the opposite surprise and prepare for dealing with it.

protagonist wrote:4. I don't have a bucket list. I don't think I need one. I'm happy without one, and busy enough doing the things I do. I also don't read books about it. I just go with the flow, like I imagine most people used to do. But that's me.


The term bucket list has become a cliché, but the underlying concept is that if there is something you always wanted to do, do it now. And the bucket does not need to be static. You can fill it with new desires and empty of those that became stale.

protagonist wrote:5. If you want to know specifics that I have learned from my experience with early retirement, feel free to ask me specific questions and I will be glad to help.


Did you have any specific goals for retirement upon accomplishing which you felt disappointed?
Where do you derive the meaning of your life?

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:38 am

srinivas wrote:Hi Victoria,

How exciting that you are on the threshold of a time in your life that will afford you greater freedoms! In reading through the uniformly thoughtful responses, it appears that your question has been, or is being, largely answered.

The following two links, while not appearing to answer your question directly, might, I humbly hope, be of added value in preparing for and enjoying this part of your journey:


Hi Srinivas,

I have just watched Kathleen Taylor's TED video you linked. Her observations are consistent with how I see the life, i.e., you follow the course, mid-course you start questioning it, and at the end of life you find your true course. She challenges people to discover their true course well before the end of their life. It's probably the greatest challenge in life.

srinivas wrote:More directly to your question: A net positive gain in the level of happiness whether in retirement or other phases of our lives will require, I suspect, very significant paradigm shifts for most of us. In other words, the potential risk associated with the hedonic treadmill set in motion by a "perfect 2014" is likely to be more around sustaining a certain level of variety in the activities you pursue (in order to keep your retirement continually alluring) and less around inherently affecting your level of happiness in either direction. Which is to say, a great 2014 followed by relatively less-great years is unlikely to make you less happy.


Happiness is such a difficult concept! A net positive gain in the level of happiness can be reached by uniformly raising the level of happiness or by creating sharper peaks and deeper valleys, with the peaks being longer than the valleys. The latter can bring much sharper (and more meaningful) feelings and memories, but it is much more difficult to control.

Kathleen Taylor talks about living each day as if it were your last one. In a way, I am designing 2014 as if it were my last year and asking what's next. I've received many great responses here, including yours. Thank you,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:49 am

Caduceus wrote:With travel, the possibilities are endless because no experience is the same, so even if you had this crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experience, the likelihood that it can't be matched or topped for similar/less expenses is slim (I'm quite optimistic when it comes to experiences!)


So you have this crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experience, and the next year comes and you want to match it. You try the same experience again, and this time it's just not as great. And so you step on the treadmill looking for other crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experiences.

While you work, it's not an issue, you have an excuse. When you have the time, money and freedom of retirement you don't have excuses.

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby DouglasDoug » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:43 am

The cure of boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. -Dorothy Parker
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:56 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Hi protagonist,


Hi, Victoria.

VictoriaF wrote:Hedonic treadmill is not limited to acquisition of things. It's about people becoming happier from various improvements in their lives, then their happiness returning to the base level, and people seeking further improvements to recreate the feeling.


Oh, I think I see. So, for example, you mean that can become an "experience junkie", because your first trip to Europe (or whatever) was such a thrill, you could never duplicate it, you've done everything, nothing seems to excite you anymore like when you were young, so you need more and more and more to be satisfied? (recalling a Tom Lehrer song...) Is that what you mean?

Of course, the other possible result is that you become content with the knowledge that you HAVE had a full and enriched life, you've done most of what you have wanted to do, and your need for more becomes less because you settle into it all.

IMHO, I just think you worry too much about stuff, which may come from reading too much. In the past you have referred to "the tyranny of choice". If the hypotheticals stress you out, reality certainly will.

VictoriaF wrote:Know yourself is easy to say but hard to do. And asking others is not as pointless as you imply. (See Cinghiale's comments above.)


I didn't mean to imply that it is pointless, though I can see how my words could be interpreted that way. If I thought it was pointless I wouldn't be responding. It may be a tool to getting to know yourself. But I think there are limits, and at some point you just have to jump and learn from experience.

VictoriaF wrote:I might be surprised by spending less than I think I would. But right now I am trying to anticipate the opposite surprise and prepare for dealing with it.


If it's a serious concern you could, to an extent, plan for it. It is something you have a degree of control over. Worrying about hedonic treadmill is a bit abstract at this point. You will soon see how well you are doing and if necessary, make adjustments.

VictoriaF wrote:Did you have any specific goals for retirement upon accomplishing which you felt disappointed?


Please clarify. Do you mean did I feel disappointed in myself for not achieving my goals? Or do you mean did I feel a sense of let-down once my goals were achieved?

VictoriaF wrote:Where do you derive the meaning of your life?

Wow, that's a hell of a question to ask somebody in an online forum!!! (laughing) Mostly I derive meaning from a sense of connection and belonging. On a local level that means connection to my friends, my daughter, my home, and the things that bring me pleasure, and on a greater level to life in general and to a sense of "oneness" with the entire vast, incomprehensible universe. On another deeper level, I don't think life HAS meaning, or at least any that I could possibly understand , and paradoxically that knowledge itself imbues life with meaning. Because, if nothing else, it allows one to be all one can be, roll with the punches, and still laugh about it. All the world is but a stage, be thou the joyful player. (poorly paraphrasing Shakespeare).
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby The Wizard » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:29 am

VictoriaF wrote:...So you have this crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experience, and the next year comes and you want to match it. You try the same experience again, and this time it's just not as great. And so you step on the treadmill looking for other crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experiences.
Victoria

I'm not sure this is exactly true, at least for most of us. It works better to cultivate a few active hobbies that you really enjoy, as opposed to one-time dilettante-like explorations.
For instance, I could EASILY go back to Bonaire or Curacao for two weeks of scuba diving every year indefinitely. (Although I would like to dive Fiji sometime as well...)

And the Grand Canyon; it's like a black hole for me, having hiked to the bottom of it in 1968, 1981, 1992, and 2010.

What there is with this stuff is a SUFFICIENT level of involved interest that keeps one "happy", for lack of a better term.
It's not like heroin where you have to keep upping the dose...
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:55 am

protagonist wrote:Oh, I think I see. So, for example, you mean that can become an "experience junkie", because your first trip to Europe (or whatever) was such a thrill, you could never duplicate it, you've done everything, nothing seems to excite you anymore like when you were young, so you need more and more and more to be satisfied? (recalling a Tom Lehrer song...) Is that what you mean?


Yes.

protagonist wrote:IMHO, I just think you worry too much about stuff, which may come from reading too much. In the past you have referred to "the tyranny of choice". If the hypotheticals stress you out, reality certainly will.


In the past, I had several occasions when I agonized over major decisions, but once I had chosen I stopped thinking about it. I hope this case will be similar.

protagonist wrote:It may be a tool to getting to know yourself. But I think there are limits, and at some point you just have to jump and learn from experience.


Yes, that's what I am doing and planning to do.

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:I might be surprised by spending less than I think I would. But right now I am trying to anticipate the opposite surprise and prepare for dealing with it.


If it's a serious concern you could, to an extent, plan for it. It is something you have a degree of control over. Worrying about hedonic treadmill is a bit abstract at this point. You will soon see how well you are doing and if necessary, make adjustments.


It's not a serious concern. I am trying various scenarios. Some of them will end up irrelevant, others will materialize, I don't know at this time which ones are which.

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Did you have any specific goals for retirement upon accomplishing which you felt disappointed?


Please clarify. Do you mean did I feel disappointed in myself for not achieving my goals? Or do you mean did I feel a sense of let-down once my goals were achieved?


The latter.

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Where do you derive the meaning of your life?

Wow, that's a hell of a question to ask somebody in an online forum!!! (laughing)


From reading your messages, I think you have one of the most exciting retirements. I know a little about what you do, I was interested in what drives you.

protagonist wrote:Mostly I derive meaning from a sense of connection and belonging. On a local level that means connection to my friends, my daughter, my home, and the things that bring me pleasure, and on a greater level to life in general and to a sense of "oneness" with the entire vast, incomprehensible universe. On another deeper level, I don't think life HAS meaning, or at least any that I could possibly understand , and paradoxically that knowledge itself imbues life with meaning. Because, if nothing else, it allows one to be all one can be, roll with the punches, and still laugh about it. All the world is but a stage, be thou the joyful player. (poorly paraphrasing Shakespeare).


Thank you,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:58 am

The Wizard wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:...So you have this crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experience, and the next year comes and you want to match it. You try the same experience again, and this time it's just not as great. And so you step on the treadmill looking for other crazy-awesome-seemingly-unbeatable experiences.
Victoria

I'm not sure this is exactly true, at least for most of us. It works better to cultivate a few active hobbies that you really enjoy, as opposed to one-time dilettante-like explorations.


It's a very good point. While working I am performing some dilettante-like explorations, but retirement offers an opportunity to cultivate the activities I like.


The Wizard wrote:For instance, I could EASILY go back to Bonaire or Curacao for two weeks of scuba diving every year indefinitely. (Although I would like to dive Fiji sometime as well...)

And the Grand Canyon; it's like a black hole for me, having hiked to the bottom of it in 1968, 1981, 1992, and 2010.

What there is with this stuff is a SUFFICIENT level of involved interest that keeps one "happy", for lack of a better term.
It's not like heroin where you have to keep upping the dose...


Another good point. Thank you!

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:19 am

Hi again, Victoria.

From your responses, it seems like you are saying your angst is pretty much existential. So you will probably just forget about it and do fine.

This was certainly my case when I learned I was going to be a father. I was petrified. I had no good role models. I had never changed a diaper. So I read everything I could in 9 months, starting with Spock (Benjamin, not the other one) and frantically working my way through the appropriate sections in every library and bookstore. In retrospect, I realized within weeks of when my daughter was born (if not instantly) that all that reading was a complete waste of time, that I was genetically programmed for fatherhood (that is essentially our purpose if we are said to have any), and that it was all really pretty easy and natural. So I can relate.


VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Did you have any specific goals for retirement upon accomplishing which you felt disappointed?


Please clarify. Do you mean did I feel disappointed in myself for not achieving my goals? Or do you mean did I feel a sense of let-down once my goals were achieved?


The latter.


I can't ever recall being disappointed or experiencing let-down after accomplishing a goal. I experience elation and pride, and move on. I only feel disappointed with myself when I fail to achieve my goal.

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Where do you derive the meaning of your life?

Wow, that's a hell of a question to ask somebody in an online forum!!! (laughing)


VictoriaF wrote:From reading your messages, I think you have one of the most exciting retirements. I know a little about what you do, I was interested in what drives you.


As ridiculous as it may seem to you (I assume it will sound ridiculous to many here) , I can directly trace the way I relate to life, the universe and everything to a single psychedelic experience I had when I was 17 years old that changed the way I viewed things forever (see my previous response to your question). It also had a profound (and universally positive) impact on all of my subsequent life-changing decisions and how I react to them. This recent Radiolab podcast tries to get to the root of it and does a pretty good job: http://www.radiolab.org/2012/dec/17/min ... ing-bliss/
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby at ease » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:20 pm

...you might read the book..."Thanks".....by Dr Robert Emmons...if haven't already done so....it is about developing "gratitude" as a tool for increasing happiness in your travel through life.....how developing a posture of gratitude/thankfulness can be a technique to move your happiness set point up a bit (and every little bit of additional happiness is nice i think)....i'm approaching retirement again having failed at it last time so i am doing much of what has been covered above, planning and trying-on new stuff on to replace work time and all....he explains that "feeling grateful" is fairly easy.... but that determining "to be grateful " as a posture, through both good and bad stuff, is hard work and requires some practice, but can help increase happiness when developed....and i hope you have all good stuff going forward....enjoy the trip !
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby LadyGeek » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:54 pm

I assume you have included attendance of the Bogleheads Convention in your retirement planning?
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby Barefootgirl » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:35 pm

It's interesting to me to read about the epiphanies of others...where they find meaning in their lives....

I've been on this journey the past few years and found quite a few answers....it's a relief and the mind goes quiet, the analysis fades and the flow increases...

I suspect you are well on your way to bliss.


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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:11 pm

at ease and Barefootgirl,

Thank you for the recommendations and wishes.


LadyGeek,

I've learned things at the Bogleheads conventions that I did not pick up in the online Forum, and I am still deriving value after attending a half dozen events. And so I am planning on continuous participation.

See you soon,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby assumer » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:34 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
The Wizard wrote:What there is with this stuff is a SUFFICIENT level of involved interest that keeps one "happy", for lack of a better term.
It's not like heroin where you have to keep upping the dose...


Another good point. Thank you!

Victoria


This seems to me to highlight the difference between experiences and hobbies. An experience may be "unmatched", but if you spend your time cultivating different hobbies, you may find they are less susceptible to adaptation, since there is usually more to learn or experience for a given hobby.

For example, a few long trips to Rome done over two years may show you most of what you want to see, and that may cause you to "adapt" to the thrill of the trips. But taking up a new hobby such as {culinary arts, yoga, wine tasting, coffee roasting, bird watching, ancient literature}, may expand your horizons to new depths which would would take many years to uncover the bottom of the experiences.

So taking up hobbies can be, in my mind, more resilient to the hedonic treadmill. Or at least they may provide more experiences to fuel your cravings even after you adapt, so it takes longer to reach the end.

Perhaps consider a purpose not to find the "best" experience, to which you can always adapt, but to uncover the breadth and depth of experiences life has to offer.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby Noobvestor » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:00 am

I wish I had advice for you. Instead, I just wanted to say: thanks for starting and engaging in this very interesting thread, and I wish you the best next year and beyond.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby Raybo » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:53 am

I am traveling at the moment and have been reading this thread and wanting to comment.

It is easy to see traveling as nothing but new, enjoyable experiences. But, traveling involves many activities that aren't all that exciting, such as waiting at train stations, sitting alone in a hotel room, or nursing a sore body after a particularly hard day. These and all the other aspects of spending time combine to make every trip different, in my perception.

Worrying that the future won't live up to the past is a kind of fear of the unknown that falls away as the unknown becomes known, again, in my perception.

I've gone on many bike tours since I've retired and while there is a clear similarity to all of them, each one is unique in place and people, which makes all the difference.

Worries about the future usually dissolve in time.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:26 am

assumer wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
The Wizard wrote:What there is with this stuff is a SUFFICIENT level of involved interest that keeps one "happy", for lack of a better term.
It's not like heroin where you have to keep upping the dose...


Another good point. Thank you!

Victoria


This seems to me to highlight the difference between experiences and hobbies. An experience may be "unmatched", but if you spend your time cultivating different hobbies, you may find they are less susceptible to adaptation, since there is usually more to learn or experience for a given hobby.

For example, a few long trips to Rome done over two years may show you most of what you want to see, and that may cause you to "adapt" to the thrill of the trips. But taking up a new hobby such as {culinary arts, yoga, wine tasting, coffee roasting, bird watching, ancient literature}, may expand your horizons to new depths which would would take many years to uncover the bottom of the experiences.

So taking up hobbies can be, in my mind, more resilient to the hedonic treadmill. Or at least they may provide more experiences to fuel your cravings even after you adapt, so it takes longer to reach the end.

Perhaps consider a purpose not to find the "best" experience, to which you can always adapt, but to uncover the breadth and depth of experiences life has to offer.

assumer,

This is a good perspective, but I have to adapt it to my interests. I am looking for opportunities to get out, move around, do something physical and challenging, engage in activities that are difficult to maintain while I am working full time. I also want to try living on the move like Paul and Vicki Terhorst do. These activities are more likely to be expensive and put me on a treadmill. Or at least I thought so when I started this thread.

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:29 am

Noobvestor wrote:I wish I had advice for you. Instead, I just wanted to say: thanks for starting and engaging in this very interesting thread, and I wish you the best next year and beyond.

Noobvestor,

Thank you for the wishes. I hope that comments and ideas offered in this discussion are useful to others.

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:38 am

Raybo wrote:I am traveling at the moment and have been reading this thread and wanting to comment.

It is easy to see traveling as nothing but new, enjoyable experiences. But, traveling involves many activities that aren't all that exciting, such as waiting at train stations, sitting alone in a hotel room, or nursing a sore body after a particularly hard day. These and all the other aspects of spending time combine to make every trip different, in my perception.

Worrying that the future won't live up to the past is a kind of fear of the unknown that falls away as the unknown becomes known, again, in my perception.

I've gone on many bike tours since I've retired and while there is a clear similarity to all of them, each one is unique in place and people, which makes all the difference.

Worries about the future usually dissolve in time.


Hi Raybo,

What you are doing with bike tours I would like to do hiking. Twenty years ago I walked with a backpack over 800 km along the Loire River and across Brittany. Next year I will walk 770 km along El Camino de Santiago. Then I will see. There were many good ideas in the Long-Distance Hiking thread that I would like to try.

I know very well about not-so-pleasant experiences, such as waiting at train stations, but even those sometimes have curious consequences.

Best wishes for your trips and please keep posting links,

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:37 am

assumer wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
The Wizard wrote:What there is with this stuff is a SUFFICIENT level of involved interest that keeps one "happy", for lack of a better term.
It's not like heroin where you have to keep upping the dose...


Another good point. Thank you!

Victoria


This seems to me to highlight the difference between experiences and hobbies. An experience may be "unmatched", but if you spend your time cultivating different hobbies, you may find they are less susceptible to adaptation, since there is usually more to learn or experience for a given hobby.


I second what "assumer" says here. Accumulating experiences is really fun, and I don't mean to discourage it, but it is also shallow compared with developing a skill or pursuit that can last a lifetime. Being "well-traveled" does not make you worldly, any more than being "well-read" makes you smart.

To achieve balance, I think that ideally one should cultivate something that nourishes their body (a sport for example), something that provides a means of expression (an art), and something that keeps their mind active (though one might argue that either of the previous two can do that as well). Ticking off countries one visits is fun but has limited lasting value. Value is, in many ways, proportional to effort. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish.........
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:16 am

protagonist wrote:To achieve balance, I think that ideally one should cultivate something that nourishes their body (a sport for example), something that provides a means of expression (an art), and something that keeps their mind active (though one might argue that either of the previous two can do that as well).


It's a good way to put it.

protagonist wrote:Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish.........


When you are fish-deprived you want to try several types before deciding which ones to learn to fish.

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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:16 am

VictoriaF wrote: I also want to try living on the move like Paul and Vicki Terhorst do. These activities are more likely to be expensive and put me on a treadmill. Or at least I thought so when I started this thread.

Victoria


I didn't know about the Terhorsts, so I looked them up. From reading this interview, I get the impression that they have established a home in Argentina, and that they are working, running a vineyard with two friends.http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/pau ... erview.htm
I do think that their claim of living well on $18-24K/year in today's dollars is very realistic, if you make the right choices. I spend a lot less than that (annualized) where I live in the winter, and I am at no loss for material comforts, good food, decent wine, travel, etc. Plus I do something that has meaning to me.
Being a perpetual tourist has its limits regarding personal experience, growth, and the way people relate to you, which is perhaps why the Terhorsts settled into making wine in Argentina. I would like to speak with them about that. Being somewhere while pursuing a meaningful activity makes you feel like you belong.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:20 am

VictoriaF wrote:When you are fish-deprived you want to try several types before deciding which ones to learn to fish.

Victoria

Makes sense. Maybe that is what the Terhorsts did. Perhaps you should write them and ask them your questions.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:24 am

protagonist wrote:Being a perpetual tourist has its limits regarding personal experience, growth, and the way people relate to you, which is perhaps why the Terhorsts settled into making wine in Argentina. I would like to speak with them about that. Being somewhere while pursuing a meaningful activity makes you feel like you belong.


I've read about them several years ago but did not keep up with their whereabouts. Perhaps I should introduce myself and ask to meet with them. I've never been to Argentina. It would be an opportunity to tick off another country {smiling},

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby protagonist » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:34 am

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:Being a perpetual tourist has its limits regarding personal experience, growth, and the way people relate to you, which is perhaps why the Terhorsts settled into making wine in Argentina. I would like to speak with them about that. Being somewhere while pursuing a meaningful activity makes you feel like you belong.


I've read about them several years ago but did not keep up with their whereabouts. Perhaps I should introduce myself to them and ask to meet with them.

Victoria


Now that I think about it, I do believe that I was on a sort of "hedonic treadmill" regarding travel when I was younger. I lived to travel when I was in my 20s and 30s- did it on the cheap- often "dirt cheap". The relative value of accumulated experience decreased with each successive trip and with age. That is why I rarely travel for travel's sake any more. I can live without seeing the museums I haven't yet visited, trying the foods I haven't yet tried, and I can well imagine the cultures that I haven't yet witnessed through the eye of a camera- walking the streets of, say, Shanghai or St Petersburg would not add a lot. Trips like that are still fun but don't any longer provide me with enough substance (or even novelty) to justify their expense in terms of money, time or "travel hassle". I'd rather be home, hanging out with my daughter or practicing sax. On the other hand, if dance was my passion and I was going to St Petersburg to, say, live there for a year to study Russian ballet, I would be there in a heartbeat, first chance I got.
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby smpatel » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:39 am

Victoria,

Despair defines retirement as under:
Because you've given so much of yourself to the company that you don't have anything left we can use.

From another angle though, some times it is time to disconnect from the employer and connect with your future self.

Pl share your success stories in retirement!
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:42 am

smpatel wrote:Victoria,

Despair defines retirement as under:
Because you've given so much of yourself to the company that you don't have anything left we can use.

From another angle though, some times it is time to disconnect from the employer and connect with your future self.


smpatel ,

I know people who have disconnected too late. I don't want that to happen to me.

smpatel wrote:Pl share your success stories in retirement!


Can I also share interesting failures?

Victoria
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Re: Hedonic treadmill in retirement

Postby rj49 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:00 pm

You might read "What Color is Your Parachute? For Retirement", one of the best book on retirement I've read. The part I took to heart most is that in retirement you have to find a way to recreate the positive aspects of a working life you're leaving behind: structure, being part of a group, daily social interactions, a sense of status and a certain amount of power and control, and a feeling of being a part of something larger. Travel and golf and gardening don't really deal with the loss of those values and aspects of your life, so unless you find a way to replace them, it's difficult to be happy and fulfilled. I have hobbies I love (reading, biking, films), but replacing the things from work is something I haven't managed to do yet, but will probably involve volunteering, hiking/biking clubs, and other forms of productive engagement.

I like the idea of Road Scholar as well, since it gives travel around a purpose or learning, and you get group interaction and more off-the-beaten-path travel if you want it, along with a variety of domestic and international travel.

If you fantasize about the idea of perpetual travel, I recently read a book by an early retiree couple who listed a page of various couples and individuals who live such a lifestyle or otherwise inspire their retirement dreams. The happy travel people tend to be couples, though, and after 8 years of post-retirement travel on my own, I find it lonely and often uninspiring on my own (which is why I'm doing a 3-week Rick Steves European tour in a few days, instead of going on my own):
http://www.webetripping.com/WhoInspiresUs.asp

Finally, I found this page by an early retiree single guy very enlightening about the challenges of retirement for a single person:
http://philip.greenspun.com/materialism ... etirement/
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