How many things do we really need?

einkaufswagen rast durch supermarkt

Perhaps our biggest mistake is that we often think that the satisfaction of needs through consumption fails because of the bottleneck factor of income or even because of the lack of income leads to lack of satisfaction. And perhaps we overlook the fact that time is the real resource. The time it takes to be able to use or enjoy a product.
Talking and drinking wine with pleasure at the same time is not possible. You can also not be on holiday in the Caribbean and at home at the same time. Or you can’t watch a James Bond movie and have an intimate date in the café at the same time.

Perhaps today we have the problem that we are accumulating more and more goods that can be called time robbers. Humans have the following handicap: Physics – our sense organs and the limitation of our mental resources – does not allow us to incorporate any artefacts, experiences or objects for sale into ourselves indefinitely beyond a certain acceleration limit. It’s simply not possible. If we watch the James Bond movie four times as fast, then we won’t be able to perceive the love scenes and the many “great action scenes” at all, because our eyes set limits. This also applies to enjoying wheat beer. If we drink this by the bucket, then our taste buds play a trick on us, because they also have their own physics.

And that goes for most other things too. Human multitasking is not possible. People can’t cognitively process more than two things at the same time or “physically use” them – except maybe when we juggle. But still, we can’t keep more than two intentions in mind at the same time.

And because this is so, the logic of giving happiness or consumption generating satisfaction is that self-limitation is necessary to concentrate. This means using the scarce resource of time, which cannot be multiplied, in such a way that the goods can also be “exploited”.

And this is precisely why self-limitation is not hostile to pleasure, but a sensible precaution against stimulus overload and excessive demands – it is the basic prerequisite for enjoyment. And secondly, it follows logically from this that people are actually much more satisfied with fewer goods.

And that’s exactly what it’s worth thinking about.