A friend pointed to this NY Times piece – a bit of how Zen means a lessening of material wants. Pico Iyer’s piece has this side blurb:
“Perhaps happiness, like peace or passion, comes most when it isn’t pursued.”
“Pursuit” or “choice” is the bread-and-butter of the economics discipline. Does it mean then that economics has become useless? No, because of course, when we choose things other than the “material,” those other things would still have their own dimensions of scarcity. For example, small-but-beautiful still doesn’t come free.
Still, and this is the Zen thing, if one can be happier today with the same monetary budget, it is a bit of a free lunch, a violation of the economist’s facile nostrum.