Now that we’ve all had time to slow down our lives and relish in the environment we reside in; we’ve had time to appreciate the relationships we have in our lives, or perhaps not appreciate them; picked up hobbies our 10-year-old selves used to spend entire weekends working on; we’ve given the time to our pets that they deserve; toured our neighbourhoods on bikes or by foot; tried recipes we never got around to, and brushed the dust off a few boardgames; we’ve made it to month six of this “new world”. If someone woke you up tomorrow and said okay the experiment is over, you can go back to your old reality. Where would you start? What do you think you’d return to doing? Do you think you’d re-adjust to your old ways or have you altered your life so drastically in the last six months that your new ways of thinking, eating, working, exercising, socializing are forever changed?
I want today's post to get you thinking about the things you may not always think about. As you probably know by now, I have a hard time coming to terms with the repercussions of blind consumerism. Part of my frustration stems from me being amongst the uninformed or unaware consumer. But what I’ve learned over the last year, I can’t unlearn. And the consumer market has so many complex layers to unfold, I am continuously learning.
I want to pose several open-ended questions to challenge the way you think about consumption: why you consume, what you consume, the feeling you get after consuming and how long these feelings last.
I want to focus on the idea of satisfaction. Something that really is different for all of us. We all feel satisfied at different levels - it’s an intangible way of measuring what we get out of a person, place or thing. I’ve been challenging myself recently to try and understand when I feel satisfied - at what point am I fulfilled and what makes me feel this way. Is it the size of my smile for the first five minutes of being with friends or family? Is it when my pants don’t need to be unbuttoned after a meal? Or when I know the meal was prepared with a level of love only my partner can provide? Is it the first hour of being in the dress I’ve been saving for? Is it after I’ve taken the first five portrait mode photos on my new iPhone? Or could most of my satisfaction stem from the build up of excitement I get before I make the purchase, eat the meal, or go on that trip that provides the ground work for how satisfied I will be?
All of these questions are to say, satisfaction is a feeling. It’s a way to measure the value of our purchased goods, and experiences. But we have the capability to determine when we feel “satisfied” and what makes us feel like our return on the investment was worth the initial investment. So, what if we started to determine what would make us satisfied prior to purchasing, experiencing or tasting? And setting expectations based on what we want out of something (I am talking about reasonable and fair expectations). Could this be a tool to make better choices (whatever “better” means to you)? Think of it like the powerful tool of goal setting, but instead, you set measurements for your desired satisfaction.
I wanted to offer these thoughts on satisfaction because I am trying to comprehend the complex world of consumerism and its growing impacts on our planet and those living on it. Between the brilliant marketing tactics and rise in social media, exposure to the new products on the market are extremely high. We feel a level of pressure to keep up with the latest and greatest. So, to a certain extent I feel our level or length of satisfaction (when it comes to the things we buy) is pre-determined for us. We are constantly made to think we need to keep up with the latest styles or newest versions on the market. But, because the rate of producing new and improved goods is so high, we don’t have the opportunity to feel the extent of satisfaction a product is made to bring us. Before we know it, we’re already adding something to our cart that we were told or read we needed.
There was once a world where two pairs of pants, two pairs of undergarments and two tops was enough. Garments were purchased for their functional purpose: to clothe our bodies, keep us warm in the winter and cool enough in the summer and/or get us through a full day of work. But, because of the role social media has on our lives, we see unattainable, falsified realities of influential people. We are human, meaning we will always want what we don’t have, but we’re being exposed to so many people having the things we are made to think we need that we feel like we're falling behind if we don't possess the same things as our peers.
I know for myself, I think for a long time I’ve cut short the length of my appreciation and fulfillment of my purchases because someone somewhere has something nicer or better, and I move on from what I already have. So, I am actively practicing “satisfaction checks”. That’s what I am calling being aware of what a product or experience can provide me with, and making sure I get the most out of the product or experience its fullest potential.
In a world where we have just been reminded to not take anything for granted, I am going to apply that from a macro scale to a micro scale. Yes, not take for granted the ability to go on vacation, go to a concert, eat out, or go to community events, but also not take for granted the things I work hard to provide for myself. Setting my own measurements of satisfaction without too much influence from the outside world.
This post, like all my posts, are based on my own experiences, views and findings. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for giving me the time and maybe even allowing yourself to critically think about the influence you have as a consumer.