There was an interesting article this past Sunday in the NY Times called Don’t Indulge. Be Happy by ELIZABETH DUNN and MICHAEL NORTON. The premise of this article was that we never feel like we make enough money to buy the stuff we want (think we need) in order to be happy. What I took away from this article is this: as an Elite Performer do you have to overindulge in equipment, training, practice, etc. to be happy? How much of these things do you need to be happy and what outcome is going to bring you the happiness you are looking for? This is a stretch but I think it works.
What is your comfort standard
Does indulgence in equipment, training and practice ’buy us any additional happiness on a typical day once we reach that comfortable standard. The magic number that defines this “comfortable standard” varies across individuals and countries, but in the United States, it seems to fall somewhere around $75,000. I think that there is a comfortable standard that varies across individuals and types of performances. What is that for you? Using Gallup data collected from almost half a million Americans, researchers at Princeton found that higher household incomes were associated with better moods on a daily basis — but the beneficial effects of money tapered off entirely after the $75,000 mark. I have seen Elite Performers go beyond their comfortable standard only to arrive a burnout. Don’t take this to mean that you shouldn’t be motivated and work hard but I am using this analogy because I think Elite Performers go past indulgence to overindulgence and I think defining a comfortably-uncomfortable standard may be important.
Why, then, do so many of us bother to work (training & practice) so hard long after we have reached an income level sufficient to make most of us happy? One reason is that our ideas about the relationship between money (training & practice) and happiness are misguided. In research we conducted with a national sample of Americans, people thought that their life satisfaction would double if they made $55,000 instead of $25,000: more than twice as much money, twice as much happiness. But our data showed that people who earned $55,000 were just 9 percent more satisfied than those making $25,000. Nine percent beats zero percent, but it’s still kind of a letdown when you were expecting a 100 percent return.’ Do you think this is similar for you as a performer?
Is more, better
‘We usually think of having more money as allowing us to buy more and more of the stuff we like for ourselves, from bigger houses to fancier cars to better wine to more finely pixilated televisions.’ Where does this notion of more is better come from and why do you feed into it? Is more, better for you as an Elite Performer?
Do more. Be more. Win more. Have more. What are your thoughts about how these phrases affect your psyche? Your performances? There are effects to how you act, react and respond as a performer given the nature of pressure on performers to: do more; be more; win more and; have more. You are focused on the outcome. You put more pressure on yourself to train and then perform. Burnout is prevalent. Anxiety is high. Expectations…what is going to make you happy? Are you ever happy with your practice, training and performances?
What is the lesson
‘In a recent study conducted by our student Jordi Quoidbach, chocolate lovers ate a piece of this confection — and then pledged to abstain from chocolate for one week. Another group pledged to eat as much chocolate as they comfortably could and were even given a mammoth two-pound bag of chocolate to help them meet this “goal.”
If you love chocolate, you might think that the students who absconded with the chocolaty loot had it made. But they paid a price. When they returned the next week for another chocolate tasting, they enjoyed that chocolate much less than they had the week before. The only people who enjoyed the chocolate as much the second week as they had the first? Those who had given it up in between. Underindulging — temporarily giving up chocolate, even when we have the cash to buy all we want — can renew our enjoyment of the things we love.’ There is a lesson in all of this but as an Elite Performer what lesson do you take away from this chocolate research?
Photo credit: Brock Davis