Happiness Society: The Chocolate Cake Curve

The Chocolate Cake Curve – or, how much we appreciate the good things in life

Of course chocolate cake and happiness have a lot in common – but probably more than you thought. When you are hungry chocolate cake is awesome; in fact, when you are not hungry, chocolate cake is usually still awesome. At some point though, it just becomes less exciting. The same can be applied to happiness. The happier you are, the less you appreciate it. For example, when you have gone through a whole load of crap, then you realise how nice it actually is to share some chocolate cake with a friend. Yet when your College provides you with cake for dessert every night, it may not cheer you up as much anymore. Apparently economists call the concept behind my cake-curve “diminishing marginal utility”.

So how come we have so much trouble recognising and appreciating what we’ve got? Is it so hard to contemplate once in a while? I am not an Economics student, but I still figured out the chocolate-cake theory. Though Economics is not as pants-wettingly exciting to me as to others (read: some passionate Economics student) it is still an interesting concept.

When one first visits the New Inn it is obvious that the chocolate cake is amazing: friends are invited and life is good. Yet we are aware that the New Inn will continue to serve this cake in the foreseeable future (or so we hope), so we do not require a trip there every night. However, if they were to do a special cinnamon fudge chocolate Christmas cake next week and next week only we would all invade the place en masse, and simultaneously pay the extra two quid they are bound to ask for it.

Now on to happiness. I really love sharing a nice cup of tea with my friends; it is a break from writing essays and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. We do this about four times a day (on average) though. Once in a while I really have to stand still and realise how awesome it is to be able to make tea (good tea too, from Whittard’s), and how lucky I am to have found some people willing to drink it with me. Life has not always been as lovely.

Why do I require darkness to see the light? (To put it over-poetically.) The World Cinema Society showed a movie on the Battle of Algiers last week, and only then did I realise how stupid it is to worry about a 50% on a formative commentary. The happier we are, the less we appreciate it. Happiness is a really distorted concept sometimes.

(And the cake is not a lie!)

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