Why do we work so hard for things we don’t really want?

 

 

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the US. Perhaps the biggest holiday of the year, it is marked with feasts, football, and shopping. Tomorrow, Friday, is known as Black Friday for business. Many stores open tonight, many more open very, very early tomorrow morning.

The holiday used to be observed almost entirely in homes. It has become a major commercial enterprise these days. While it once was that our appetites were stimulated for sumptuous meals of roast turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and pumpkin pie, these days the major appetite stimulated is for things. Shopping is the object.

If I may, I am going to borrow from a piece I wrote for my personal blog – www.JackDunigan.com. It goes like this:

 

mad magazineSome of us remember Mad Magazine (actually it is still in publication after 60 years) and its resident mascot Alfred E. Newman. He is most famous for his “What, me worry?” line, but he had another epithet that is less well-known but revealing nonetheless. He said:

“Most people don’t know what they want, but they’re pretty sure they haven’t got it.”

Some years ago a survey was taken in Los Angeles asking people how much money they would really like to make per year. Nearly everyone said they would really like to earn 20% more. Whether one was a minimum wage earner or in the top 1%, they all wanted 20% more.

It is a condition of human nature to want more. The very biological nature of life is growth and it affects our thinking too. When we look at our own personal state and compare it to others, we almost always compare it to those whom we perceive as doing better than we are, who have more than we do.

Now, accumulation of things and earning more money is certainly not evil unless and until it becomes obsessive and establishes itself as the focus of living. But, to shamelessly borrow from Jesus’ admonitions, Life does not consist of the abundance of one’s possessions.

It is no wonder that, having been there and done that, so many seniors downsize, get rid of things, change the focus of life. I used to find it odd that seniors bought aluminum siding and lived in mobile home parks or condos. I thought they were just getting tired and lazy, but then as I approached that stage of life myself, I discovered why. With less to have to do we can do more of what we want to do. So we move into communities where someone else mows the lawn and we buy homes requiring a good deal less maintenance.

Now please do not think I am slamming an ambitious and full-tilt lifestyle. I am not. There is nothing wrong with wanting a better standard of living, more comfort, more money, greater success. You will discover though, that the new thing you want so badly is soon the old thing. A discontentment with the present can easily impel us to wish we had just a little bit more than we have.

If there is one benefit to an economic downturn is that it forces us to refocus our standards and revalue our life. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, the next time you feel tempted to measure your life and living against someone, why not measure it against someone who has just a little bit less than you do? I mean, what could it hurt? You just might not feel so bad about that cell phone you carry, that tv you have to watch, that car you have to drive.

You see, the advertising people know the four components of sale are AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. If they can get your attention, provoke interest in their product or service, and PROVOKE DESIRE, they can usually motivate you to action resulting in a sale.

Contentment is a rare virtue these days. But your life is much more that what you have and way much more than what you don’t have.

Don’t be so sure you don’t already have what you really want.

Have a great Thanksgiving! It’s a holiday weekend and I’m taking the time off. Hope you can too.

 

 

 

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