sign up log in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Lynda Moore wants you to shift focus from external sources of validation, such as material possessions and financial achievements, to internal sources of fulfilment. She has five tips, and thinks you will be much happier as a result

Personal Finance / opinion
Lynda Moore wants you to shift focus from external sources of validation, such as material possessions and financial achievements, to internal sources of fulfilment. She has five tips, and thinks you will be much happier as a result
Rethinking what's important
Rethinking what's important

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about a life free from financial worries; perhaps after imagining a big lotto win? It’s a common fantasy fuelled by the belief that happiness directly correlates with our financial achievements – the salaries we earn, the assets we accumulate, and the size of our bank balances.

However, pursuing financial happiness often feels like running on a treadmill.  No matter our earnings, or accomplishments, satisfaction remains just out of reach.

Consider your first salary; it seemed adequate, even generous back then.  I remember blowing my first pay packet on a beautiful sheepskin rug.  I was very proud of my purchase, until Mum asked me for my first board payment, and I had spent it!

Fast forward to today and having reached what once seemed like an unimaginable income, the desire for more persists.  I know as my income grew, so did my desire for more things, the car (a convertible of course), jewellery, the sheepskin rug was a distant memory.  I was most definitely on the hedonic treadmill.

The concept of the hedonic treadmill suggests that despite our efforts to increase our income and accumulate wealth, our happiness levels tend to return to a baseline level over time.  The phenomenon occurs because we experience improvements in our financial situation, our desires and expectations also increase, leading to a perpetual cycle of striving for more without achieving lasting satisfaction.

How do you break free from the grip of the hedonic treadmill?

It’s crucial to shift our focus from external sources of validation, such as material possessions and financial achievements, to internal sources of fulfilment.  Here are some strategies to help you step off the hedonic treadmill and cultivate lasting happiness.

  1. Practice mindfulness:
    Cultivate awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours without judgement.  Mindfulness allows you to appreciate the present moment and find contentment in the here and now, rather than constantly chasing future desires.
  2. Cultivate gratitude:
    Regularly express gratitude for the blessings and good things in your life, no matter how small.  Gratitude shifts your focus from what you lack to what you have, fostering a sense of abundance.
  3. Set meaningful goals:
    Instead of chasing material wealth or societal expectations, set goals that align with your values and passions.  Pursuing goals that are personally meaningful and fulfilling can provide a sense of purpose and satisfaction that transcends material wealth.
  4. Focus on experiences:
    Invest your time and resources in experiences rather than material possessions.  Experiences such as travel, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones, have been shown to bring more lasting happiness than material goods
  5. Practice Generosity:
    engage in acts of kindness and generosity towards others.  Giving back to your community or helping those in need not only brings joy to others but also fosters a sense of connection and purpose in your own lie.

Here’s a bonus tip.  Stop keeping up with the Jones’s, for all you know the Jones’s could be broke!

I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision to step off the hedonic treadmill.  There were a couple of life events forced me to rethink my life: My relationship ending and moving from a large house to a small flat really made me look long and hard at all the possessions I had acquired over the years and decide what was really important to me and leave behind what wasn’t.  As I made those decisions, it wasn’t the coffee machine, or juicer, it was the recipe book that I bought on a trip to Argentina, the 3d picture my daughter made for me in primary school.  Of course, I needed linen and crockery, but that was secondary to items that had memories attached to them.

My father passing away and watching my Mum grieve and clutch a photo of Dad, this was more precious to her than any of the other things they had acquired, and she would have happily traded them all to have him back.

In this stage of my journey, spending time with friends, sharing a meal in our homes means so much more than dining out in a high-end restaurant. I still love eating out, but it is more considered than a habit.

The best outcome for me since stepping off the hedonic treadmill is, the work that I do with my clients is so much more satisfying, my bank account is much healthier, and I am much happier.

By incorporating these practices into your life, you too can step off the hedonic treadmill and cultivate a deeper sense of happiness and fulfilment that goes beyond material wealth and external achievements.

Lynda Moore is a Money Mentalist coach and New Zealand’s only certified New Money Story® mentor. Lynda helps you understand why you do the things you do with your money, when we all know we should spend less than we earn. You can contact her here.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


What you advocate is anathema to the foundations of the capitalist economy as we experience it today Lynda. And you are right.

Ever since marketing and communications became tertiary degree study courses, open and subliminal psychological messaging has been exploiting human wants and desires, transforming those into compelling need - requiring spending.

Got a "new" product to take to market? First step in the marketing plan is engender a belief of need that your product will satisfy.

I  am old enough to remember pre-supermarket days when groceries were all behind the counter, your shopping list picked out, measured,  packed for you.

I found it ironic, after reading your article, I read the article arguing the RBNZ must reduce interest rates, posted yesterday, Easter Sunday, had inspired 167 comments. And I'm the first comment on yours. I think that's a reasonable testament to how deeply hedonic philosophy is embedded in society and the economy we live in today. And how (as PDK explains) it will ultimately lead to failure of humanity.




Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and you've really hit the nail on the head. It's fascinating to see such a vivid illustration of how our values and economic system are intertwined, especially through your unique lens of experience.


Yes , it is a great lifestyle , i have been there,living in the bush , and spending virtually nothing,  back to running a business and spending , now scaling down and spending less again. 

The problem I am finding , is though you can reduce your discretionary spending , things like dental and ears / eye treatment , accountant fees, insurance , other professional services we now require , become a very large portion of your expenses. 

But buying less crap is a good start. Storage is a big business now , people storing stuff they have brought , dont need , and just becomes a expense to store it . and then dumping fees. 


Thank you for your input. It's all about finding that balance. It's so true that cutting back on the unnecessary can shine a light on the essentials that really do matter, like health and professional services. And isn't it ironic how we end up paying just to keep the things we thought we needed?