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#023: The Diderot Effect: How to break the cycle

“Times of scarcity need to be met with generosity, times of fear with comfort, times of uncertainty with presence.” - Thomas Hübl

David Luescher
1 min read

An idea for you to consider

A couple of weeks ago I bought a CrossFit membership.

One month later, CrossFit shoes, wrist wraps and a speed rope (for the nasty Double-under) counted as well to my possession.

How come that I all of a sudden ended up buying all that stuff even though I was already going to the gym on a regular basis for 2+ years?

I have fallen victim to the infamous Diderot Effect.

When you obtain a new possession, it often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more and more new things.

As a result, we end up buying stuff that our previous selves never needed.

This is known as the Diderot Effect.

I bet you have fallen victim to the Diderot Effect, too.

Here are three strategies to help you overcome the Diderot Effect:

1 ) Avoid the triggers that lead to consumption in the first place

Reducing the cues in your environment can reduce the tendency to shop for new things.

  • Put a “No advertising” sticker on your mailbox
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters who promote consumption
  • Don’t spend time on shopping websites

2) Each time you buy something new, give something away

The goal is not merely to reduce your possessions to the fewest items possible (unless you’re a minimalist of course), but to the right amount of things. Do you need two laptops, or will one just do fine?

3) Rent instead of buy

The majority of the things we own (e.g. cars, cameras, etc.) are idle most of the time. Renting instead of buying can be the more reasonable option for many reasons.


A quote for you to ponder

“Times of scarcity need to be met with generosity, times of fear with comfort, times of uncertainty with presence.” - Thomas Hübl

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