Why do we buy?
Charlie Harary, a well-known investor, lays out three pillars for why we are attached to our credit cards by an umbilical cord. He calls it, The Trap of Materialism:
1. Physical things are easy to value since we can physically sense them. In other words, physical pleasures (like new Nike shoes, AirPods, Vitamin-C serums) create stronger neural connections because they are paired with dopamine, the chemical released by our brain in response to physical pleasure.
2. The pleasure of physical things is limited. Essentially, material pursuits are only enjoyed when actually experiencing them. Since they don’t offer any enduring pleasure, they make us look forward to repeating the activity (the buying) to feel the pleasurable sensation of dopamine again. Have you ever realized that when you spend a little too much one day it becomes a downward spiral of spending? Yeah, same. It’s a negative feedback loop at play. You buy, you crave, you buy more, you crave more.
3. We develop a tolerance for buying physical things. In other words, material pursuits always need to get stronger to outdo the stronger growing neural connections. The pleasure of buying becomes too familiar and less thrilling and therefore, forces you to up your spending game.
Wise words by Harary…When we spend more of our time in pursuit of materialism, we wind up not being able to distinguish between what we need and what we want.
And another reason…
The Diderot Effect: the spiral of consumption that happens when you upgrade something in your environment, and therefore, have to upgrade the rest of your environment to match it. As a result, we incessantly buy things that we otherwise would have not needed to feel satisfied.
Insight from Unlocking Greatness by Charlie Harary