King for Just One Day

These summer vacations are great. I’m sitting in a 150-year old house in the heart of downtown Hamilton, Ontario and enjoying the steamy warmth of the Great Lakes area, the lush vegetation and well-tended gardens that only our elders seem to master, and some of the world’s best home cooking.

During earlier stops on this same trip, I had the pleasure of touring the nicest district of a historic city, drinking new kinds of beer with interesting new people, eating in a stylish Colombian restaurant (who knew those even existed?) zooming along the Chicago waterfront in a brand-new luxury motorboat, and riding around in the fast and expensive cars of  various friends. I’ve even had the chance to spend quite a few hours playing with the latest gadgets – iPads and the Blackberry Playbook tablet, new computers, and a gigantic 3-D television.

All of these things seemed pretty prestigious. Each one of them would take quite a bit of effort and money if I wanted to incorporate them into my own daily life back in Colorado. But while I enjoyed each experience to its fullest, I have no plan to copy any of them. And that’s because of a trick I have adopted: I like to call it the “King for Just One Day Method”.

You see, luxury experiences are luxurious precisely because they are novel. If you ask a kid who has grown up in a waterfront mansion how excited he is about his parents’ house, he will probably describe the experience in pretty mundane terms. As you get used to a new luxury, the fun rapidly wears off. In fact, I can even draw a graph of it for you:

Figure 1: Effect of Fancy New Stuff

As you can see, most of the fun happens right at the beginning. When I bought myself a really fast motorcycle back in 2001, the best riding experience was the first day I took it up into the mountains. If I bought myself that Tesla Roadster I occasionally fantasize about, the peak experience would again be those first few days or weeks of ownership. The fancy boat in Chicago would lose its thrill after the first season, and a fancy restaurant becomes commonplace after a few visits.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the initial thrill is pretty exciting. And luckily, in our modern and prosperous world, friendly people like you Mustachians are likely to be exposed to plenty of those thrills, whether you seek them out or not.

You might end up in a job where you get to take business trips, bringing your fancy gadgets in special bags onto a jet that can take you to beautiful and distant parts of the planet. You might even get to purchase a salad of seared Ahi tuna over a bed of mixed greens with a rich sesami ginger dressing, while your employer pays the bill. Others will get a chance to swim amongst tropical fish in crystal clear turquoise seas, or sleep in the home of a very wealthy friend or family member, enjoying a view or amenities that most of our fellow humans could only dream of.

Even more fun than sharing these peak experiences offered by others, is offering your own. When a friend visits my house for the first time, I’m pleased to provide the insider’s tour of some of the world’s best snowboarding, mountain biking, brew pubs, and camping and river activities. These things have become commonplace for me, but usually seem pretty amazing to new guests.

The key to making the most of these experiences is to enjoy them for what they are, without idolizing them as a necessary part of everyday life. All of us have got plenty of neat things to keep us busy in life, and if you take a careful inventory you’ll see that there are already many options you already have that are going unused.

So when you experience new things that seem better than the equivalent things in your own life, avoid the temptation to copy them. I don’t need to get my own new yacht, because I’ve already raided that Best First Day courtesy of my friend’s new yacht. I don’t need to buy a seared Ahi tuna salad in a prestigious coastal restaurant every day, because I already enjoyed that initial thrill during a business trip. I don’t even need other amazing new experiences every day, because even amazing days would start to blur together if they weren’t properly grounded with days of quiet introspection and other days of good old fashioned hard work.

Lower-income people can lose their envy of the rich by learning that a life of constant luxury is not any better than a life of simplicity punctuated by the plentiful novelty that Life automatically invents for us. And rich people can lose their slavery to their own wealth by learning that seeking out constant luxury is like listening to a radio where someone flips from one station to the next every few seconds. Listen to the whole damned song! Then listen to the whole album, and if you can handle it, try making some of your own music!

Write your own list of the Ways that you’ve Got it Good, and then dig in and enjoy them ALL this summer, before going out to purchase any more add-ons to your already great life.

  • Suhaila December 27, 2015, 8:34 am

    Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t lose the excitement of awesome things. I still think my laptop is rad 3 years running (although I’m sad I don’t have the right set up to comfortably play the games I want), still excited about my Xbox 1 year running, and still super jazzed about my iPhone 18 months running. Same goes if I dig where I live. Even though I don’t love my apt I do take a moment every now and then to appreciate it. I guess if I like something, I love it for a long time!

  • Liz April 26, 2016, 12:33 pm

    Lots of people marvel at the idea that I moved from NZ (so far away! so beautiful! so outdoorsy!) to plain ‘ole south western Ontario. It was only the experience of being so far away that made me realize that where I came from was pretty great:
    -low cost housing
    -great cost of living
    -lots of great lakes for sailing, swimming and general water fun
    -no traffic jams
    -and….wait for it….a winery at the end of my road!

    I’m happy to bike to the winery for an outside glass of wine and a bit of summer jazz :)

  • ZJ Thorne May 10, 2016, 8:55 pm

    I definitely noticed this. I have family overseas. They live with in-laws in a gorgeous house in one of the most beautiful seasides in the world. The in-laws have always lived there and grown accustomed to its beauty. They kindly hosted me, and we all got to share in my wonder.


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