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Old 08-11-2013, 01:40 AM
 
331 posts, read 289,928 times
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Just wanted to share this article on why we want what we can't have:

Why We Want What We Can't Have

It argues that we're always driven to want something more, especially when it concerns material possessions. That brand new watch loses its appeal real fast; before we know it, we're angling for a shiny necklace.

I think this explains, in part, why so many of us have the urge to "keep up with the Joneses." Instead of thinking that we already have more than so many people out there, we harp on the fact that others have more than us -- thus, we yearn for that which is unobtainable, or above our means.

What's your take on this? Is it possible for us to reach a point where we're content with the material possessions we own, or do we have an innate need in us to always strive for something better?
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:30 AM
 
1,417 posts, read 1,698,964 times
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Thorstein Veblen covered this topic definitively in 1899 with his classic The Theory of the Leisure Class. His argument in brief:

In ancient times, personal property was all in the form of spoils of war and predatory raids. Mostly slave women and the products of their industry. (Back when women spent all day weaving and sewing and such.) To own property was to prove one's prowess and excellence in what Veblen calls "exploit": the dominance of another willful agent (be it a hunted animal or a man on the battlefield) and the turning of that agent's will to one's own ends.

Because people judge each other based on their relative efficiency at whatever task is at hand (what Veblen calls "the instinct of workmanship"), those with property--demonstrating efficiency at exploit--are judged of higher status.

And that, after thousands of years, is why we need bling, shiny cars, and whatever other material status goods we're craving. Because they elevate us in the eyes of our fellowman (and thus, in our own eyes--what Veblen calls "the complacency with which one is accustomed to regard ones-self"); and there you have it.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:37 AM
 
3,287 posts, read 4,941,472 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksy23 View Post
Just wanted to share this article on why we want what we can't have:

Why We Want What We Can't Have

It argues that we're always driven to want something more, especially when it concerns material possessions. That brand new watch loses its appeal real fast; before we know it, we're angling for a shiny necklace.

I think this explains, in part, why so many of us have the urge to "keep up with the Joneses." Instead of thinking that we already have more than so many people out there, we harp on the fact that others have more than us -- thus, we yearn for that which is unobtainable, or above our means.

What's your take on this? Is it possible for us to reach a point where we're content with the material possessions we own, or do we have an innate need in us to always strive for something better?
Yes, it's possible. I've been quite content with what I have for many years. I just replace things when needed and have no drive to "keep up with the Joneses". And I think there are plenty of people out there just like me. It's called emotional maturity.
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Old 08-11-2013, 12:26 PM
 
Location: NJ
804 posts, read 1,308,171 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sayulita View Post
Yes, it's possible. I've been quite content with what I have for many years. I just replace things when needed and have no drive to "keep up with the Joneses". And I think there are plenty of people out there just like me. It's called emotional maturity.
Agreed, I feel no need to spend and spend what I worked so hard to earn. Most people say I save too much money!
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Old 08-11-2013, 12:45 PM
 
Location: California
454 posts, read 566,769 times
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I think a lot of people want what they can't have... sometimes due to greed, sometimes on a smaller scale... i.e., wishing you had more closet/storage/cabinet space but can't afford it... or wishing you could add a room but again, have no $$$.... or even wishing you could be 5'2" instead of 5'7" (that's me LOL, always wanted to be a shorter female)

Most times i'm content with what i've earned, acquired, worked for... and if it's not within my budget or means, i just sigh and pass it by
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Old 08-11-2013, 01:18 PM
 
24,750 posts, read 26,817,884 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksy23 View Post
What's your take on this? Is it possible for us to reach a point where we're content with the material possessions we own, or do we have an innate need in us to always strive for something better?
Yes, it's definitely possible to learn to be content with what you have. But it takes mental training and/or a different focus in life. It helps to hang around people who aren't materialistic. Some people get the mental training through things like meditation/martial arts/yoga or just going to a church...as most organized religion discourages excess consumption.

Certain personality types seem to have an easier time with this. Usually introverts, especially the Myers-Briggs INTJ type (the type for a lot of engineers/computer programmers).

I think we do have an innate drive to want something better...but when you have a different focus in life, you stop defining a bigger house, nicer car, and more stuff as "better" because you realize that once you reach a certain point, having more of that stuff really doesn't make you any happier (and research from psychology and economics bears this out).

I also think it helps a lot if you watch less TV and movies. No one thinks advertising affects them, but we are all lying to ourselves.
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Old 08-11-2013, 02:52 PM
 
Location: In my skin
8,881 posts, read 13,855,083 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksy23 View Post
Just wanted to share this article on why we want what we can't have:

Why We Want What We Can't Have

It argues that we're always driven to want something more, especially when it concerns material possessions. That brand new watch loses its appeal real fast; before we know it, we're angling for a shiny necklace.

I think this explains, in part, why so many of us have the urge to "keep up with the Joneses." Instead of thinking that we already have more than so many people out there, we harp on the fact that others have more than us -- thus, we yearn for that which is unobtainable, or above our means.

What's your take on this? Is it possible for us to reach a point where we're content with the material possessions we own, or do we have an innate need in us to always strive for something better?
I think some people can be completely content with what they have and, for others, it will never be enough. I want more I have now, but it is about achieving goals. The money represents security and philanthropy for me. Yeah, I'll indulge some, but it's not going to be a 13 bedroom house in the Hollywood Hills and a $200,000 car. I'm not influenced by external definitions of success.
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:02 PM
 
48,519 posts, read 81,076,846 times
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I guess because they often can afford what they want. Same as they don't want what they don't want; really. No deep thought needed.
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:59 PM
 
331 posts, read 289,928 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sayulita View Post
Yes, it's possible. I've been quite content with what I have for many years. I just replace things when needed and have no drive to "keep up with the Joneses". And I think there are plenty of people out there just like me. It's called emotional maturity.
I'm the same way. For example, I'm contemplating buying a new car in the coming months. My current car is 14 years old, but I've done such a good job maintaining it over the years that you'd never think it's that old. Even though the car is dated and has its scratches, I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I'll be parting with it in the near future.
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Old 08-18-2013, 02:35 PM
 
3,287 posts, read 4,941,472 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksy23 View Post
I'm the same way. For example, I'm contemplating buying a new car in the coming months. My current car is 14 years old, but I've done such a good job maintaining it over the years that you'd never think it's that old. Even though the car is dated and has its scratches, I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I'll be parting with it in the near future.
My car is also 14 years old and well maintained. Every time I take it in for routine upkeep or replacement parts, I just keep muttering my mantra - "It's better than a car payment, It's better than a car payment, It's better than a car payment."
When I sell my house in a few years I'll buy a "newer" older car and pass mine on to one of the young folks in my family.
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