Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hunger is the Best Sauce

"Pleasepleasepleaseplease," he whines, for the shiny toy he sees on the store shelf. 

"Oh, all right," I succumb. 

It's not much of a surprise when all the bits and pieces are scattered about, forgotten and neglected, all too soon.

Let us consider dinner for a minute. I have come to a point that I don't enjoy eating unless I am hungry, since there is a missing element of delicious satisfaction when the juices haven't been stewing in anticipation. It seems that also applies to purchases. 
Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton report in "Happier Spending" that thanks to technology, people can buy without marking the cost, also known as instant gratification. 

Ma has nurtured in me a preference of using cash. Whenever I go shopping and I hand over my credit card, I do not even process the price. When I'm using cash, I repeat, "It's how much?" and sadly count out the bills. 
Square Wallet’s chief appeal is that it makes payment essentially invisible. This is exactly what makes it so dangerous. Yes, the app soothes the pain that might be connected to forking over five dollars for morning coffee, but numbing that pain is tricky. Just as the sensation of burning tells you to pull your hand from the stove, the pain of paying can keep spending in check. This isn’t just a metaphor. Paying high prices for goods and services activates the region of the brain associated with the anticipation of actual physical pain.
I always thought my hands felt suddenly arthritic when I have to empty my wallet.
Cash smells so nice and papery . . .
Americans are mired in debt. Sometimes it isn't avoidable, or even can be financially sound, but happiness is diminished anyway. However, prepayment, the vanquisher of debt, is connected to higher happiness.

No matter the item to be purchased, if it was paid for in advance as opposed to on the spot, the buyers were happier. It would seem the physical pain of parting with greenbacks then does not taint the joy of receiving the item later—the sensations are experienced separately, so the happiness is complete. 

It's about anticipation, which even applies to dating. The idea of the first date is usually more palatable than the date itself.
Parents recognize this principle when they wrap Christmas gifts and leave them under the tree for weeks. Wrapped presents are often more exciting than ones that have been opened. We all know a child who pined for some toy only to end up playing with the packaging. Perhaps this explains why research shows that people frequently experience a happiness boost in the weeks before their vacation. Stuck in an office cubicle, the anticipation of the beach is almost as enjoyable as the beach itself. The French — those masters of pleasure — even have a word that helps capture the thrill of anticipating the future: réjouir.  
Additionally, the mind uses the anticipation to gloss over any possible flaws when the union takes place. So in the end, waiting is a win-win. 

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