Short-range hedonism

Published On December 30, 2013 | By Joseph (Ken) | Debt


I was reading the comments section of the news article Mortgage rise will plunge a million homeowners into ‘perilous debt and a reader mentioned the term “short-range hedonists“.

Apparently, short-range hedonists lead unfulfilling lives marked by listlessness, underachievement, and ennui; they frequently run into financial difficulties; and their health suffers from poor lifestyle choices such as drug and alcohol abuse, poor diet, and lack of exercise. Short-range hedonism undermines our good intentions while sabotaging our goals; it is deadly to our self-efficacy – the belief in our own ability to carry out goal-oriented tasks – leading to an overwhelming sense of personal failure.”

“Four factors lie at the heart of short-range hedonism are:

1) Instant gratification

“Most of the best things in life take time and effort to acquire; they seldom come to us overnight or without work and sacrifice on our part. But short-range hedonists regard waiting for life’s long-term payoffs as too hard. Instead, they continually pamper themselves with minor pleasures (food, excitement, toys, etc.).  By devoting their resources (time, money, and effort) to instant gratification, their long-term goals remain unmet.”

2) Discomfort anxiety

“Many short-range hedonists are guided by their feelings: if they feel like doing something, they do it; if they don’t feel like doing it, they don’t do it. These short-range hedonists are inveterate procrastinators. For example, they put off doing household chores because they don’t feel like doing them, and instead, they spend their afternoons watching football on television simply because they feel like it. Their feelings play a greater role in determining their behavior than any consideration of the consequences of the behavior.”

3) Entitlement

Many short-range hedonists believe that they are entitled to treat themselves to a short-term pleasure, especially after a particularly long and grueling day, or after they have suffered from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. They tell themselves that they deserve – and therefore must have – what they want, when they want it. Unfortunately, they often go on to treat themselves to a pleasure that interferes with their long-term ambitions. “

4) Approval-seeking

“It’s good to be popular. Having a strong network of friends for companionship and support adds quality to our lives; doing what we can to build and maintain a circle of friends makes sense. But many short-range hedonists take this goal to extreme limits, and try to win the approval of everyone, under all conditions — even to the extent of sabotaging their other long-term goals.”

Within an economic perspective, Canada is ripe with short-range hedonism.

Canadian household debt ratio climbs to record in third quarter as  mortgage borrowing hits $1.13-trillion

Car-buying will fuel record consumer debt in 2014, report forecasts

Consumers expected to keep driving Canada’s economy

But it’s not too late.  

Canadians can be savers again – if we recall how

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About The Author

Joseph (Ken)
(Ken) is a Registered Public Accountant with over 25 years of public practice experience in the accounting profession. Ken specializes in accounting information systems, taxation and financial reporting.

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