Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Forced Gap in the Inner Nature or Mind The Gap

In these hectic times it becomes harder and harder to have a long chat with someone. I think best during conversations and conflicts. That is why I enjoy long drives so much. Driving across town is always a great way to listen and unload.
So a few days ago I had the chance to have a drive with a good friend of mine who is always very busy, but during our drive he had to talk to me between cell calls.

"Got any more questions buddy?"
He asked me a series of questions that got me thinking; "How would your life change if you get a raise of $1,000 a month?" he asked.
I answered that basically my life won't change that much. I'll probably buy a new laptop or something. Maybe one more takeout dinner a month. But I won't move to a bigger apartment, won't buy more clothes, and won’t buy any stupid gadgets.

Future vs. Present 
"So I guess you're a future kinda guy"
During my economics studies, I was taught there are 2 kinds of individuals. There's a ‘future loving’ individual who prefers to consume less now so he can save and consume more in the future.
The second kind is a ‘present loving’ individual who prefers to consume most of his income now while knowing he will have less to spend later.

After giving it some thought, I realized that deep down I'm a future loving man who is forced to live as a present loving one. I consume all my income when actually I'd rather be saving.
That forced gap between my inner nature and wills and Between my current situation is the source of the basic unhappiness that follows the regular Joe. As implies in my name, I don't think I'm special. I believe there are many like me that experience that gap as well.

No more Grey Pupon?
After sharing my thoughts with my friend he commented that my definition is inaccurate. While I called it the forced gap, it is actually not forced.
Nobody twists my arm to live in my current standard of living which I’m accustomed to.
To emphasis his point he asked me to participate in a small mental exercise; “what if instead a raise of $1,000 you'll get a pay cut of $250 a month?” His claim was that a pay cut won't be the end on the world for me.
Maybe I will have to cut back on luxuries But after a while it won't be so noticeable.
Now, let’s say my salary stays exactly the same but I only imagine a pay cut while actually I’ll be saving $250 of my monthly income. If I do that for about 6 months, after I’ll go back spending as usual, I’ll suddenly feel much richer and probably manage to continue saving a bit.

Lose the banana and grab a calculator
After his words I continued thinking about it while he was yelling on the phone.
The regular Joe has an economics degree. What pushed me to study economics was my interest in human behavior.
If you think of physics, mathematics, chemistry, all of them would be around, applying their rules on us, mixing and pulling and outputting, if we were to discover them or not. People invented economics. It evolved with us. As complicated as our society became, we invented economy to further serve our needs.
It always freaked me out that a science invented by us submits to the same laws and rules the world around us does. The last crisis was the result of a very complicated economy applied without concerning human emotions while actually economy is the sum measurements of human emotions.

Design flaw
It seems I drifted a bit but as I thought about my friend's question, I realized that his theory has one major flaw.
Some things I can't give up
It doesn't take into account my feelings. The theory doesn't take into account my happiness. For me to save $250 a month basically mean giving up cables, stopping dining out or down grade my Internet connection. Everything else is just spent on rent, food and bills.

The only problem is I love TV because it helps me relax, I love eating out because during the week I barely see my girlfriend and we need this quality time together, and I really feel my Internet connection is too slow now so down grading it is out of the question.

In order to maintain or stay in a similar level of value (=happiness) achieved by my resources today, I must use ~100% of them. Although my inner nature wants to only use 70%-80% and save the rest.

So we reached the core of the problem. The reason for the regular Joe’s unexplained inner unhappiness.

What I can now proudly call “The forced gap in the inner nature”.

So, who knows anybody on the Nobel prize committee?

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