Enough.

What does it mean to you? When will you have enough money? Do you have a figure for it? A certain way of life?

This post will talk about that thing that affects everyone, yet no one talks about it. The reason you earn more than ever before, yet still feel financial worry niggling at you. The silent stress inducer, the pressure builder and total waste of your resources.

It is very easy to justify things to yourself. ‘I need that because..’ ‘it is only X more, I just got a pay rise.’ ‘My current thing is less good now.’ This process of justifying purchases to yourself can be massively detrimental to your financial health. This mainly boils down to marketing, instant gratification (instagrat) and brands manipulating our thoughts so we believe we must have what others appear to have. ‘I deserve it because I worked hard.’ New phone every year anyone?

We may feel like we need certain things to maintain a lifestyle similar to others around us.

If we do not talk about money, how do you know that your neighbour, friend, sibling, acquaintance or anyone you are comparing yourself to, isn’t paying through the nose for their lifestyle with money they don’t have? Simple answer, we don’t know how others finance their lives, we can guess, but we would probably still be wrong. Some of the richest people I have met appear modest and I have met a lot of people who appear wealthy yet have massive debts. The point is you can never assume anything.

The hedonic treadmill: the idea that humans have a base level of happy. We usually revert back to that given time regardless of the situations. There are some exceptions, usually negative sadly, i.e. traumatic loss. The idea that when we buy a new thing, we are happy for a short time then revert back to a baseline. Rinse and repeat.

To tackle this we must be happy with what we have, look around you, do you have enough to meet your basic needs. Most people living in the west should have enough to sustain themselves. No Netflix doesn’t count as a necessity, although it may appear so. You wont die without it.

Ever had a friend (not you) steal a pint glass from a pub with a logo on it? It sits in your cupboard and each time you see it even if you do not actively think about it, your brain registers ‘Logo on the glass = beer) You are more likely now to purchase that brand next time. Yes, you may like the drink but whether you like it or not your subconscious mind is primed for this decision. This is why the breweries provide free glasses to pubs and pubs don’t care if glasses disappear.

A bit of science:

Repetition is how our brains form memories, repeated use of neural pathways strengthens them. (Bhatt, 2012). Further and perhaps scarier is Gibson et al’s (2014) study that suggests new myelin sheath is formed in mice for the neural pathways used the most. Myelin sheath speeds up transmissions between neurons, therefore adding to the instant gratification process outlined above. The brain adapting to these changes is called neuro plasticity. So if we see thousands of adverts each week, our brains will effectively become speed transmitters for the messages portrayed.

The brain as a prediction engine does this so successfully that you do not have to hear the name of the brand to make the association. Let’s try it, below are two prompts, think about which brand immediately comes to mind:

Takeaway pizza?

Hotel?

Ask a pal the same thing, did you both come up with the same results?

A lot of money annually is spent parting us with our hard-earned money through advertising, telling us we are not enough, do not have enough. This, I believe, is untrue, you are and you have (or will have) enough.

References:

Gibson, E.M., Purger, D., Mount, C.W., Goldstein, A.K., Lin, G.L., Wood, L.S., Inema, I., Miller, S.E., Bieri, G., Zuchero, J.B. and Barres, B.A., (2014). Neuronal activity promotes oligodendrogenesis and adaptive myelination in the mammalian brain. Science344(6183).

Bhatt, M. (2012). Evaluation and associations: A neural-network model of advertising and consumer choice. Journal of economic behavior & organization82(1), pp.236-255.

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