Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More thoughts on money and happiness [non-China]

There's an interesting post in The Atlantic about the fears and anxieties of the super-rich which adds some anecdotal weight to the argument I made in this post. I had made the analogy to a video game:
In a video game, when you're playing on easy, just beating the objectives soon becomes boring. You start asking yourself what the point of playing the game is...
The author of the Atlantic article puts it this way:
If anything, the rich stare into the abyss a bit more starkly than the rest of us. We can always indulge in the thought that a little more money would make our lives happier—and in many cases it’s true. But the truly wealthy know that appetites for material indulgence are rarely sated. No yacht is so super, nor any wine so expensive, that it can soothe the soul or guarantee one’s children won’t grow up to be creeps. When the rich man takes his last sip of Château d’Yquem 1959, he tips back the wineglass to find at its bottom an unforeseen melancholy. Like Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, he notes in horror, “I have drunk, and seen the spider.” It is as terrifying a realization in Saint-Tropez as it is anywhere else.

In addition to the article itself, "reticentb"'s comment is worth reading.

Edit: On the other hand, some kinds of experiences, such as described in this story, may be worse than anything I'll ever to go through.

Edit 2: An interesting suggestion from a fellow blogger is to use goal-setting to make life harder. To me it seems that this should work: if I had a lot of money I would continue to spend most of my time learning Chinese, merely using my financial resources for transportation and other things.

Edit 3: A powerful look at what it's like to be poor.

First thoughts on Taiwan

After a month in Taiwan, here are some of my initial thoughts. Although it would probably be better to appreciate the country on its own, I find myself evaluating my experience here mostly in comparison with my time in China. So here are some of the pluses and minuses of life in Taipei, as compared to Beijing.

Plus: Environment. The first time I had a real "I'm not in China anymore" moment was going biking at Taipei's riverside bike trail, which snakes throughout the city.