Have you ever seen something that someone has and told yourself “I want one of those!”? We all do it. Some of us give in to the urge easier and more frequently than others, but we are all guilty of this.
One of the seven deadly sins is gluttony, but let’s be clear there is a difference between standard consumption habits and gluttony. Gluttony is consumption in excess. And truth be told; too much of anything bad or good can be a danger, we risk loosing ourselves in becoming too vested in anything.
In order to expect more, we need to appreciate what have, see its value and find comfort in what we have. Only than can we expect to have more, and for that “more” to last for anytime.
If we don’t understand how to manage what we have in the right way the world cannot trust us with what it has to offer, as we will just mismanage it. So try not to get caught up in becoming a fanatic of expensive things that serve no purpose or that are short lived.
The Diderot Effect
The Diderot Effect explains the process where we say “I WANT ONE OF THOSE”. Why we want things we don’t need and where these thoughts come from.
Dennis Diderot was a philosopher who lived in France, he was not a rich philosopher but he was well-known for his theories and works. He lived a meager life, where he was not over indulgent.
At some point he wanted to help his daughter with buying some things for her wedding to come, but he did not have enough money to assist.
Diderot was the co-founder and writer of Encyclopédie, which was one of the most comprehensive encyclopedias of the era. The Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great heard of his financial issues and offered to buy his library of Encyclopédie from him for around $50,000 in current US Dollars.
So, now Diderot had lots of money. So much that he was able to afford a new robe, a scarlet robe as he called it. And so the downward spiral began.
So It Begins…
The downward spiral had begun… He had been perfectly content in the past with his belongings but now things were different.
“The space that remained between the tablet of this desk and the Tempest by Vernet, which is above it, made for a void disagreeable to the eye. This void was filled by a clock. And what a clock! A clock a la geoffrin; a clock whose the gold contrasts with the bronze.”
This is only one example of what happened to him after acquiring his scarlet robe, It was so majestic that all of his other things became an eye soar as they did not fit into what he felt was his new view.
Everything else needed to be brought up to the same level of luxury that the scarlet robe provided, replaced! I saw a nice new table for my room “I want one of those”. I need a new pair of pants, I need a new pair of shoes, I need a new hat, a new car, a new whatever, I don’t know why but, I WANT ONE OF THOSE.
It can get out of control and it did…
“My luxury is brand new and the poison has not yet acted. But who knows what will happen with time? What can be expected of he who has forgotten his wife and his daughter, who has run up debts, who has ceased to be a spouse and father and who, instead of depositing a useful sum deep in a faithful coffer…”
The entering of a new possession into a person’s existence will often lead to a process of spiraling consumption. In most situations, the truth is that we already owned enough pants and our end tables and bedroom furniture worked just fine.
But, because something new had been introduced into our lives, we were immediately drawn into a process of spiraling consumption. Finding value in this new things and measuring up against our current belongings, and seeing that our current things do not offer the same excitement, lets not fall into this trap.
Tips To Overcome The Diderot Effect
1. Become Aware It Is Happening: know when you are falling into spiraling consumption not because you are in actual need of an item, but only because something new has been introduced. Stop declaring; “I WANT ONE OF THOSE” and instead ask; “DO I NEED ONE OF THOSE”
2. Avoid Purchasing Unnecessary Things: Know the
Diderot Effect is a powerful force and overcoming it is very difficult. You may avoid replacing those end tables at first, but at some point you are going to crack and buy new ones that better match the new couch. There are times when we have a real need to buy new things. But the best way to overcome the Diderot Effect is to never allow it to overtake you in the first place.
3. Possessions Do Not Make You: A fruitful life is not one found in the things. Your things do
not define you or your success because success is a perception and the the accumulation of things to “show off” only shows you are more interested in looking successful rather than just being.
4. Buy Things For Their Utility Not For Status: Stop trying to impress others with your possessions and start trying to impress them with your life.
Have you ever bought something that you really wanted, so much that you thought it would make you so happy you would not ever want for another thing.
Only to find that this thing you thought would keep you happy for many years only stayed satisfying for a week!? It has happened to me, and I wanted to know why.
I later found that I was not investing my money in the right places, I now look to spend money on experiences and traveling even if it is just to the neighboring city. Have you ever looked at a photo, or listened to a song that reminded you of a memorable event in your life?
At times in these situations I feel as though I have been transported back to that exact moment in time and I am reliving that event. I remember familiar place that has changed and/or important people in my life that may have passed on, I hear their words, and see their smiles and It makes me smile.
These material things are just that; material, they are finite, they have an expiration date when they will be no longer useful or just in bad shape.
But memories, are infinite and live on in our minds forever. With every recollection providing adding more value, they have no date of expiration and to me are more precious than any gem or amount of money. Spend your money, and your time making memories with the people who care for you because those experiences are infinite in value.