I have mentioned before that I have worked for very rich people before and I was thinking today about appreciation. Many wealthy people I have known have not appreciated the very nice things they have. Of course everyone is an individual, but the more money people have, the more they tend to lose track of reality. Let me give you an example.
I helped someone once who complained about bluetooth not working in her brand new BMW. It had to be the most expensive one they had because it was loaded. I worked with her on it, and BMW didn’t want to synchronize with her new iPhone over bluetooth. It worked perfectly connected to the USB cable. She was disappointed that we couldn’t make it work and I promised to research it and tell her what I discovered. Turns out that BMW had a different way of working and that they didn’t support her fairly recent iPhone. She didn’t like this answer and I so I continued to research it and it was clear that BMW had this flaw and other customers had the same issue. Only BMW could fix this issue since her model of iPhone worked well with other cars according to the research I did.
So just to recap, someone who had a $100k vehicle and a $1000 phone, living in a probably a $20 million dollar house was upset because she had to use a USB cable instead of wireless. I was amused at the situation. What I realized today is that you can have very nice things, but if you don’t appreciate them, then there is no use in having something. Bluetooth was dead for her, which means that it was wasted money spent. What if instead of having money, we were given things according to our appreciation of it and the actions we would take on having it? Lets say for example that her BMW was given to her by the government so that diabetes patients could get to their appointments on time on a dangerous mountain road? That the things in our life directly and measurably increase the quality of our lives and that’s why we have them?
Capitalism is very inefficient in creating happiness. Lots of people have way more than they could ever appreciate, yet the more they have the more than want and become unhappy. I see this all the time that people get some success, buy something and then need more and more to get that “capitalism high” of consumption. What if manufacturing was geared towards those people who had real, measurable needs, and then those people could apply to get things that will measurably improve their happiness? You could have people make lists of things that will make them happy with the promise that if they get it and it makes them happier as measured by a psychological/measurable changes in the brain (scientific way) then they can keep it. However if they get something and it doesn’t make them happy, then they have to pay for using it and turn it back in so other people can enjoy it.
Sharing was a great concept taught to kids. Why can’t we share as adults in more meaningful ways than libraries, car sharing, or things that give you temporary possession of things? I loved the Indian idea of giving everything you own to another tribe so that they can enjoy what you have and you get what they have. What if we just swapped the things we needed, and given things by each other based on our appreciation and pro-social usage of it? I think that if people had the ability to consume unlimited quantities of things, they would find materialism disappointing. The rich I have seen get bored because they “can truly have it all” yet they find no challenge and difficulty appreciating it. Most things are just stored away, gathering dust while the rich person continues spending more money in search of happiness.
Ok I don’t have all the kinks worked out in this system, but money is clearly the worst way of being happy because we tend to spend money on things that don’t make us happy. We think it will make us happy but then learn it doesn’t, and then we have to donate or sell things that don’t make us happy. What if we could just have things without the burden of owning them. Be given things, and then give things back when they fail to make us happy. If we damage them, then we pay with cash, but I bet that the things that people love they will take care of. It is the things that we don’t value that people trash, and that those will quickly be identified and given back. Spending money isn’t sustainable, but having services and experiences are always sustainable.