Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside

July 8, 2007

What kind of car would you buy if money wasn’t an issue?

I’ve had this conversation with a few people in the last couple of weeks. It’s always interesting to hear what people think they would do.

In my experience, what people actually do when they find themselves in that situation is sometimes quite different.

The ‘99 Ford Laser I’m currently driving is fine, but for some reason I think I need something better different. Even so, I’ve struggled to get excited about the purchase.

Scott Adams explains it nicely:

I remember when Dilbert hit it big and it became clear that I would never again have to worry about money. It was a wonderful feeling, but it didn’t last. I went from happy to hollow with no warning. The first moment that I could afford any car I wanted, I lost interest in having a nice car. I simply couldn’t see the point, if there ever was one. Success is surprisingly disorienting.

From: The Meaning of Meaning

And, in his book ‘Stumbling on Happiness’ Dan Gilbert offers a possible explanation:

We change across time; the person you are when you are imagining what it would be like to have that fancy new car is not the person you will be when you actually have that fancy new car.

From: The Joy of Delusion, New York Times

PS The title for this post and the cartoon above can both be found in Hugh McLeod’s excellent manifesto called How to be creative.