Today’s mantra: The more we buy, the more we perceive we need. The inverse is also true: the less we buy, the less we think we need. We are content with whatever we teach ourselves we need.
Today’s action: Ponder this: When are you content? Can you be content with few material possessions? With spending little money?
Liz’s article today brought up a great point that would have also gone well with the “Treat Yourself” challenge day. The more you treat yourself, the more you get used to it and the less of a treat it feels like. Did you know that lobster was once considered a poor man’s food? It was so abundant that it was fed to slaves and prisoners. But that was only for people on the coast in New England where lobsters were abundant. Once they were able to ship lobsters to further away locations, lobster became a delicacy.
The rarity of a treat is what makes it a treat.
Last year I listened to Tim Ferriss’s podcast where he interviewed Pete from Mr. Money Mustache and Pete brought up a great thought that has stuck with me. You gain more happiness from subtracting a negative in your life than adding a positive.
If you go from not having a car, and biking everywhere or using public transportation, to owning your own car, that makes your life significantly easier, subtracting a negative. But if you upgrade your Honda to a Lexus, you’re not going to get as much enjoyment from it, because the Lexus doesn’t fix your problem of needing transportation any better than your Honda did, it’s just flashier, adding a positive.
I have found this to be true in my own life. The things I’ve purchased that have subtracted negatives in my life, I’ve enjoyed and appreciated for longer periods of time than those things that were merely adding a positive. I’m a tech nerd and am kind of in love with Google, so I always “oo” and “ahh” over their latest phone and as soon as my current phone starts dying, I’m price checking the new ones. And though I do wait for my current phone to actually die before buying a new one, and though I’ve been dreaming of this new phone for months, I’m used to it and it’s lost its excitement after a couple weeks.
I’m sitting here trying to think of something I’ve purchased lately that subtracted a negative in my life and I honestly can’t think of anything. That isn’t to say that I haven’t bought anything lately, I’ve bought things, they just subtracted very small negatives from my life. I bought a tinted chapstick so I’d look less tired and dead. I bought a planner I’d been eyeing for months because I thought it would help me reach my goals this year.
Now, I’m using both products and enjoying them, but I don’t know if I could go so far as to say they’re subtracting a negative in my life. This is pretty eye-opening for me, I need to do a better job at determining if I’m fixing real problems, or just adding sparkle to my life. Some sparkle is nice, too much sparkle is gaudy.
Are you content not spending money or do you hear the sirens call of all the sparkly things? Do you have any tactics to help you resist?