The roughly dressed man stood in the doorway, wringing and kneading his battered cap. Mrs Marfy recognized him as the foreman at the Brewery where Paddy worked.
"Mrs Marfy, it is my sad duty to inform you that Paddy died at the Brewery today."
"What happen't?" Mrs Marfy asked.
"Paddy fell in the vat and drown't" the foreman said, sadly.
"Was it quick?" Mrs Marfy asked.
"I'm afraid not" the foreman said, regretfully. "He climbed out three times to use the men's room."
I am not getting much love from my laptop. The essay I wrote in LibreOffice will not open so you get a slap-dash version of it.
Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote a book titled Your Money or Your Life. It had its day in the sun and folks moved on.
Dominguez makes the point that Prospect Theory is wrong.
Prospect Theory suggests that the joy of a gain has a singularity around zero and then the joy increases monotonically as the gain increases. Further, Prospect Theory holds out that each increase in gain is subject to diminishing returns but it always inches upward.
Dominguez contends that the joy/gain curve is shaped like an upside-down "U". It goes up rapidly at the start just as Prospect Theory contends. It has a broad, almost-flat region (Dominguez calls this almost-flat region "Enough"). But then the joy starts to drop downward when total gain is more than "Enough".
While there are many cases like poor Paddy Marfy like the man dying of thirst in the desert who prays for rain and drowns in a flash flood, those cases are one-ofs. Occam's Razor demands a single unifying mechanism even if it is not as dramatic as Mr Marfy heroically climbing out of the vat the third time.
That single unifying mechanism is that every person has a limited number of hours in their life. The hours and dollars (money is a proxy for the hours of our life) that are expended seeking MORE of something beyond "enough" are robbed from other facets of our life where we are lacking.
In aggregate, we are sub-optimizing when we hyper-focus on one narrow facet of our lives. More money, for instance, cannot fix rotten arteries, a lazy mind or a defective character.
Consider firearms. A first gun might be a single-shot, full-choke shotgun. The owner might be happy to keep 8-of-10 shots on a paper plate at 35 yards. Lets call that 30 MOA.
The next weapon the newbie buys might be capable of hitting a playing card 8-times-of-10 at a hundred yards. Lets call that a 3 MOA firearm.
Then the shooter wants one that is a 1MOA firearm at 100 yards. Then a 1/2MOA rifle. Then a 1/2MOA at 200 yards and so on.
The first gun was $50 at an auction sale. The second was $300 and every rifle and associated hardware was 5X more than the previous.
With me so far?
If the shooter's needs were to shoot bunnies in the cabbage patch, raccoons in the chicken coop and to pot an occasional deer on his five acres...the first gun was probably "enough".
How did we get trapped?
We were trapped into this thinking by the simplest of classical conditioning. Going from Not-Good-Enough to Better-but-not-enough tickles our pleasure centers. Tickle those pleasure centers enough times and gains will continue to do so even after "enough" is passed.
How to get un-trapped
Make decisions consciously. Maybe your life doesn't shower you with joy. Racing past "enough" in one or two facets of your life might be totally rational.
On the other hand, reaching for more may be habit. Slow down. Ask "What is the best use of my next hour or next $20?"
NOTE: Computer still locking up. Hence the lack of pictures.