10 February 2006

Consumption 2

Mulling over the comments that I posted, as well as some others that rolled in, triggered some additional ideas.

I think that my original point was missed, perhaps by me as well.

Step back from whether consumption is "good", "bad", "desirable", "undesirable"; "statemenlike" or "economically beneficial".

Step back from whether there are political costs and benefits to others.

Step back from the ironies of writing that piece from business class burning jet fuel across Asia.

Step back from allowing your mind to take issue and debate a small detail of what was written.

The central question that I was asking myself was... Does consumption in, and of itself, derive personal satisfaction and meaning? Specifically, would consuming more increase my level of personal satisfaction? Are the actions and compromises required for me to consume at this current level actually deriving me any benefits? If not, then could it be that the most rapid way to improve my satisfaction and reduce stress levels be achieved by reducing my consumption and, thereby, freeing myself from certain obligations? Why then do I spend so much energy enhancing my ability to consume?

I spent years kicking those around while living in Hong Kong.

Although binary situations hold intrinsic appeal to me, the choice isn't between gung-ho consumption and living in a cave, as one entertaining letter suggested. We can have a far greater impact on the world by staying engaged than cutting ourselves off (witness one man's impact on the fringe sport of long course triathlon training). The most interesting part of Friedman's argument was his observation that appropriate leadership could have an exceptionally large long-term beneficial impact on entire societies.

So my main point was to ask myself about the sources of long-term satisfaction in my life and consider if my consuption choices were based on any rational footing.

Mostly they aren't. So I've also been working on strategies to reduce sources of irrational influence on my choices. More on that when I get the chance.

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