Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Consumerism – More is Better

Consumerism seems deeply ingrained in our human behaviour. In a way, we still behave like the hunter-gatherers of human evolution. Now we hunt for bargains and collect (gather) stuff for our homes. Often we buy things we don’t need (with money we don’t have) to impress people we don’t even like, a Dave Ramsey quote.

Each additional good we buy contributes to our overall satisfaction. Yet the relative – or marginal – increase in our overall satisfaction decreases. Boosting our overall satisfaction becomes more and more difficult. The simplest example is eating a delicious slice of pie. Each additional slice contributes less to our appetite. At some point the “increase” even becomes negative and our overall satisfaction decreases (eg, stomachache). This is the Law of Diminishing Returns in Economics.

A similar impact is known in psychology. Learning Mind: “A series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion showed that as people become more materialistic, their sense of wellbeing and purpose is reduced and if they become less materialistic, it rises. [] In many ways, this is a logical correlation. Consumerism and materialism often involve comparisons with others and, if it is perceived that others are doing better, resulting feelings of deficiency are understandable.”

The reasons for breaking with consumerism are twofold: either it’s a voluntary choice or it’s forced upon by external events (e.g., divorce, sickness, unemployment). I think, feel and believe that the consequences are very, very different.

My quitting of consumerism was – and is – forced upon by external events. Initially, I resisted this change. My resistance was similar to Denial, the 1st stage of processing grief. The other 4 Kübler-Ross stages followed subsequently: Anger, Bargaining, Depression and then Acceptance. I doubt my Acceptance is definitive. I miss certain good things in life, like buying a ticket and visiting friends abroad. I’m now looking for opportunities to tweak my Less is More approach with some aspects of consumerism that will boost my overall satisfaction.

A voluntary choice for halting consumerism brings 2 basic alternatives: a choice for Needs versus Beliefs. Both choices ultimately involve a belief but only the second one of these beliefs is extreme and potentially dangerous. The first group believes in Back to Basics (ie, basic Needs) and is represented by – for example – the Amish.

The second group radicalises from facts to opinions to Beliefs and often turns against consumerism, including the people and nations that represent consumerism. Their Beliefs are often in the Power domain (i.e., Money, Politics, Religion) of the 7 Belief systems. They are eager to “change the world” and force their new Beliefs upon other people as the new Truth. That force often brings violence. This group is also known as freedom fighters or terrorists, depending on your perspective (and who is winning). See my 15 March 2016 blog for historical international examples.

Consumerism is ultimately nothing more than a belief that More is Better. Any belief (or Belief) can change. It just takes time and the 5 Kübler-Ross stages of processing grief over losing a belief (or Belief): Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Teddy Pendergrass – The more I get, the more I want (1977) – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki


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