The “Rodney Dangerfield” economy

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to lament, “I get no respect.” The U.S. economy, which now appears finally headed for a recession after years of growth, also gets little respect. This article from Social Education provides some reasons why. Of primary interest to this site’s visitors: The article explains how the “hedonic treadmill” can keep people from feeling good even as their material standard of living increases:

The image [of the hedonic treadmill] is that of someone who must run faster just to stay in the same place. The reasoning is that people seem to judge their well-being not by their own standard of living, but by how it compares with some reference level. The reference level could be set by neighbors’ standard of living or an economy-wide average. In either case, evenly distributed growth would leave everyone in the same place relative to the reference group, having a higher standard of living but no greater happiness.

The news isn’t all bad. We have the ability to get off the hedonic treadmill by setting our own standards for what we’ll consider prosperous. What better time than now to get off the hedonic treadmill?