Do you find yourself craving new things? New clothes, new furniture, a new job, new cell phone, etc. Have you ever wondered why you want all of that new stuff in the first place?
Winifred Gallagher attempts to explain the human desire to engage in things that are new and different in her book NEW: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change. Throughout the book Gallagher discusses ‘the love of the new’, otherwise known as neophilia.
Desiring new things is not always bad. Gallagher’s book explains how the desire for newness has pushed inventors to discover new technologies, researchers to create new vaccines and explorers to discover uncharted worlds.
However, as with all things in the life there is a certain yin and yang to newness. While the love of new things may spur great exploration and invention in some, it can cause out of control spending and addiction in others. The desire for new is not so great if it results in sky high credit card bills and closets full of unworn clothing.
The Internet age has added an even bigger sense of new to our lives. We are constantly inundated with new news, new blogs and new emails. In the book, Gallagher mentions the ‘new boredom.’ She believes that this constant influx of data and information is causing humans to become overstimulated. She believes this overstimulation causes us to become bored faster and that this boredom forces us to constantly seek out new things. Whether it’s emails or gadgets we quickly get bored of them and move onto the next newest and greatest thing.
Gallagher provides steps for diminishing people’s addiction to new technologies and data. By using timeout techniques, developing a limitation on emails and keeping a log of how often you use a gadget and how it make you feel.
I’m surprised how my own desire for new stuff has diminished to almost nothing over time. Rather than buying new things I now wish for more meaningful, fulfilling moments spent with those I love. I haven’t gotten rid of my desire for ‘new’ I just changed my desire from meaningless new objects to rewarding new experiences.
I can credit my new values on my minimalist lifestyle. I’ve always been a bit clutter phobic and with the addition of my son I now realize that I simply don’t have room for all of the extra ‘stuff’ I used to desire. Spending my days shopping, dusting and cleaning all of those new objects simply takes me away from spending time with the ones I love. Similarly I’ve cut out clicking on my email or google reader every few minutes. I want to take time outs for those throughout the day, but otherwise I want to treasure the time I have on this earth. Just as no one ever says “I wish I worked more” on their gravestone I don’t think anyone will say “I wish I checked my email more often.”