It’s a strange thing with satisfaction in a world of seemingly unlimited choice:
We tend to equate freedom with choice, and both with happiness, even in the marketplace.
Research, however, has shown that sales can be greater and customer satisfaction higher when the number of choices is reduced, not when it is increased. Having a greater number of potential alternatives just doesn’t help in being satisfied with the one choice made, or even in making a choice at all.
Sure, there are nice things out there.
We all probably have some things we dream of having. And even if it isn’t things we are dreaming of so much as experiences, money seems equally as necessary for that, too.
Beyond the essentials, however, we don’t really need much in order to live well, and we don’t need to be able to buy in order to live better, so much as we need to be.
I have a particular problem with the notion of “not buying things but experiences” as good gear can help be a lot more active and for a lot longer than a fast-bought “adventure”. It just depends on whether you use it that way or not, so you can consider the cost-per-use.
This misunderstanding may easily be the most problematic way we are not truly at home in our lives, for it is simultaneously the easiest to break, and the hardest.
It is so very easy to break because all it takes is for us to decide we have enough, get up, and get going.
We just need to explore more, of our surroundings, of life, of the world, and we can discover more.
It works both physically, by moving and getting fitter and developing new physical skills and capabilities. And it works psychologically, by exploring new landscapes out there or of the mind, learning and studying and putting the knowledge gained to use.
Both interact with and positively contribute to each other…
But it is also the hardest to break.
All those easy things that we could do and that would make us be more and live better are just too many things to easily decide what to try and find what will really satisfy – and they all require that we ourselves take our lives and learning in our hands, even as the potential result seems unclear and may be a long time away.
The next great experience, meanwhile, seems just the swipe of a credit card away, and with guaranteed immediate results, and the next new product that promises to be so much better than the one that came before, and promises to make our life so much better, also just awaits (and gets pushed on us with a lot of promising marketing)…
It is the most noticeable – once you stop to think about it, anyways – how strongly we get immersed into the customer’s approach to life if you look at all the great and anti-materialist advice columns that tell you to “Buy Experiences, Not Things!”
True, there is a lot to be said for experiences and for putting “experientialism” over consumerism – but a consumerist anti-materialism (that may not even be against a true materialism but itself an expression only of a shopper’s attitude to a cheap life that makes life itself cheap) isn’t *it*, either.
To get around this, two approaches may be recommendable:
One, keep a diary. Write down what product has lured you, what you expect and why you want it, and if you end up getting it, also note when it frustrates you and doesn’t turn out quite that good. It may help the next time you’re tempted to change your life by shopping.
Also write down what you’ve done beyond shopping and what that has done for you. Chances are, especially with the effect of memory coming in, experiences turn out even better.
Above all, however, make a habit of active living. Preferably, not just a shopping habit but one of things you do for yourself and to make your life more interesting.
Go for walks, try out new things in the kitchen, see more, stop and smell the roses – or plant some…
I write quite a bit – and there’s more to come – about stuff and how to avoid/sort it. After all, our desire for happiness and how consumerism has hijacked it and channeled it into the desire to get the latest and greatest is one of the big problems we face when it comes to how to live multiply good, truly better lives.
For me, avoiding consumerism means that, when I don’t just try to avoid the temptation (and in part, in order to do so), I go looking for things that are of the greatest value.
China’s luxury consumption is in the news. A lot. In all the celebration of chances for sales growth (with maybe a bit of puzzlement over a still-developing country’s citizens having to have goods that middle-class “Westerners” would find too, well, luxurious), consideration of what (luxury) brands mean to Chinese is rather lacking.
Even as I’ve argued that it’s the younger generation who would be the ones to have grown up with the idea of brands, and who would be the ones who most want to shop, and show their status by it, there are complications… (as if the idea of “the wealthy who buy luxury” hadn’t already gotten more complicated in mylast posts on it).
Not only has China become the world’s second-largest economy in terms of GDP, this country of famously high household savings rates has also become the world’s second-largest market for luxury goods.
Hot on the heels of the Japanese, who were avid buyers of luxury brand goods during the heyday of their economy, and continued to be so even during the “lost decade,” Chinese have taken over the position of the extremely brand-conscious for whom happiness seems to be the pursuit of handbags.
Even leaving aside the oddity of Chinese men carrying their girlfriend’s/wife’s purse (which is not all that odd) or having their own handbag (which looks worse to the foreigner, but also has its logic), one continues to wonder how luxury consumption in China fits in.