"Enough is never enough", says Free Exchange in this week's Economist, talking about how advertising makes us want what we can't have (typically, a brand new car adorned with a "cartoonishly large bow"). Advertising encourages us to chase the end of the rainbow, wanting what we (and more importantly others) can't have.
It's clearly not just advertising, it's much wider than that, with roots in the long history of Western culture. Advertising is as much a symptom as a cause of the phenomenon. We're in the absurd position that the richest, most eductated people work the longest hours, often at the expense of their mental health and family lives. That's borderline pathological and not caused by advertising.
But whatever the causes, this trait is common among lawyers, though an increasing number are seeing the light. At risk of sounding a little too smug (another characteristic of lawyers, perhaps), at Carbon Law Partners we've bucked this particular trend - we work hard and long hours but for clients we choose and for a reward we see directly. If we have an intense couple of months, we can ease off for the next: we get to choose how to calibrate our own work life balance.
As Oscar Wilde said, a cynic is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Time for all of us to be a little less cynical, and value what matters most. Spoiler alert: it's not a car with a bow on it.
Perpetual dissatisfaction may well boost economic growth by keeping highly productive workers who might otherwise enjoy more time with their families chained to their desks. But it is a funny sort of prosperity that depends on people never being satisfied with their lot.