No 2298 Posted by fw, June 13, 2018
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“This has been shown all over the world, in many different cultures in many different circumstances, that, if you’re very poor, a big increase in income and energy and food makes you significantly better off. But once you reach a certain level, above that level you get very little increased wellbeing from more – from more money, more stuff.” —Nate Hagens
In yesterday’s post, Pt 14, continuum 13, Dr. Hagens’ offers a brief explanation of how dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter in our brain. The brain has several dopamine pathways, one of which plays a role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior. The anticipation of reward increases the brain’s dopamine level. Dopamine signals the value of a given reward, motivating the action required to get the reward. Once the reward is obtained, the dopamine level falls, waiting for the next jolt of never-ending “wanting” behavior.
In today’s post, Pt 15, continuum 14, Hagens emphasizes that a “shop-‘til-you-drop” dopamine addiction, which dissipates rapidly right after your latest fix, is not a path to increased levels of life satisfaction. It really is the simple things in life that sustain an ongoing feeling of contentment and wellbeing.
Below is the embedded video of Hagens’ 60-minute address, followed by an 18-minute Q&A session. My transcript of Pt. 15, continuum 14, runs from 24:09 to 25:24.
Alternatively, a video of Hagens’ talk, along with a “loosely related” essay on the talk, are available by clicking on the following linked title. This version, published by Resilience.org, also includes excellent readers’ comments, including responses by Hagens.
TRANSCRIPT (from 24:09 to 25:24)
24:09 – [Continuum 14: Wants vs Needs] – Wants versus Needs. So, consumption, on the [left graph] bottom [axis], versus fulfillment. And this has been shown all over the world, in many different cultures in many different circumstances, that, if you’re very poor, a big increase in income and energy and food makes you significantly better off. But once you reach a certain level, above that level you get very little increased wellbeing from more – from more money, more stuff. In the USA, that level’s around $60,000. So, if you’re making $70,000, $700,000 or $7 million – and I would argue as a former Wall Street broker, the guys making $7 million are less happy than the ones making 70 grand because they have too many people bugging them about money, and they have so many accountants and taxes it’s just crazy.
25:01 – But the point is that after a minimum is reached, most of the [good] things in life don’t come from more stuff. This [photo on the right] is a good friend of mine, Josh – both of us live quite simply, and we like music and food and drink, and all of these things are relatively low on the [material, energy] throughput.
[Resilience.org Supplement] — Wants vs Needs – Once our basic needs (food, water, basic services, social respect) are met, we get very little additional life satisfaction from increased consumption.
About Dr. Nathan John Hagens – Hagens, 51, worked on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers for 10 years before closing his own hedge fund in 2003 to develop a systems synthesis approach to the human predicament. At present, Dr. Hagens is a professor at the University of Minnesota where he teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar called Reality 101, A Survey of Human Predicament. The readings and lectures cover literature in systems ecology, energy and natural resources, thermodynamics, history, anthropology, human behavior, neuroscience, environmental science, sociology, economics, globalization/trade, and finance/debt with an overarching goal to give students a general understanding of how our human ecosystem functions as a whole.
Visit Nate Hagens’ personal website at The Monkey Trap.
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