To Have or Have Not

shoppingBy Joanie Connell

Have you thought about how ironic it is that Black Friday falls the day after Thanksgiving? One minute we’re appreciating what we have and the next we find ourselves seething for what we want. For some of us, it’s a game to win, for others, it’s getting stuff we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The New York Times had a photo of someone buying a 50” screen TV at sunrise on Friday and a quote from another person saying she didn’t need any of what she bought but she got a kick out of the great deals.

Have you ever thought about how much all these savings cost us?

  • Buying more for less causes us all to have to work harder. To produce more for less, companies have to hire people for lower wages and make them work harder for every dollar earned. We all know what it’s like in organizations these days, having to generate higher profits by spending less, laying people off and requiring the remaining ones to do the work of 2-3 employees. This is clearly not good for people who value balance in their lives.
  • Collecting more stuff is creates more work for us to get rid of it all. What do we do with all this stuff when we don’t want it anymore? We throw it away! Even charities don’t want lots of the junk people are getting rid of today. While it’s good for the waste management sector, we are paying the costs of managing the waste that companies and households generate—through higher taxes, higher costs of goods, lower salaries, and longer hours worked. Obviously, waste is not only a cost for us, but for Mother Earth as well.
  • Wanting more makes us feel less satisfied. Research shows that materialistic people are less happy than non-materialistic people. When you constantly want more and do not appreciate what you have, you feel shortchanged, envious, resentful, unfulfilled, and so on. These are not healthy feelings and buying more won’t make them go away.

With all these costs, the question remains as to whether the benefits are worth it. It may well be a situation in which less is more. Owning fewer things lets us better appreciate what we have. For example, owning one doll makes that doll special. Owning a collection of dolls makes each one just a part of the collection and creates a desire for more every time a new one comes out. During this shopping season, consider having less to achieve more happiness.

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