Despite aspiring to a new, more frugal life since May, I was looking at used car prices for newer models. Nothing is wrong with my older Honda Civic, but something was stirring inside me; at times, an inescapable and indescribable animalistic desire for more (even if I cannot afford it).
Something shook me from my ogling – a realization. We want what we cannot have. When we have what we desired, we no longer crave it. This phenomenon is the purchase paradox.
It’s in the perpetual want and desire that we maintain our spending – a hamster wheel that is hard to depart. I could simply blame advertisers for causing and creating this false demand. I could point out how our capitalistic system encourages it. But there’s a fundamental human need to perpetuate this paradox.
Seemingly, it is nature to crave what we cannot have and lose attraction to that which becomes ours. We buy a fashionable coat, thinking it’s needed, craved, and desired. Purchased, owned, held, and it’s merely another accoutrement filling your burgeoning closet with stuff. The superfluous is only found after it’s written, purchased, and owned.
We adjust to a lifestyle. Buy the luxuries, feel the thrills, but eventually it fades. Objects cannot be more than fascination for long. They melt and meld into our identities and lives – defining a new normal and looking for the next fix. Bigger, better, fuller, fancier – the search continues.
Flirting with temptation and desire can motivate poor decisions and spending, but it fuels us – fundamentally. I cannot escape my desires every time, but I learn from each. We are walking paradoxes, spending like there’s no tomorrow, while recognizing that our days are numbered.