Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Is Better? Why we choose clutter.


In nature more actually is considered better. Research done some years ago found that animals are attracted to what is called “supernormal stimuli.” If an Oystercatcher bird is given a choice between her own small egg and a larger egg from another bird, she always chooses the big one. The same is true of the Herring Gull and the Greylag Goose who choose eggs too large for them to have laid.

Butterflies go for supernormal stimuli as well. Male butterflies are drawn to the female that flickers its wings the fastest. When an artificial “butterflly” is presented that flicks her wing even faster, he is prefers it above all others.

The society in which we live every day is awash with supernormal stimuli. Interest has been renewed in how it is affecting the way we live today. Books such as  “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler, MD, are being written about overeating pointing out the excess provided in our food supply and how some people respond to it with overeating.  Hollowell, an expert in the field of Attention Deficit Disorder, reports in his book “Crazy Busy” that in 1981 he began seeing what he calls “pseudo ADD” brought on by people participating in an overabundance of activities.

Finally, and of special interest to us, is the problem of over-acquisition. The question arises, Have those of us who struggle with managing our possessions fallen into the same pattern? Do we respond to the abundance of possessions that have become available in our society in a way similar to those who overeat and become overbusy? In other words, are we attracted to more, more, more and bigger, bigger, bigger like the Oystercatcher and the butterfly? Do we somewhere deep down make choices on the basis that more is better?    

In a TV hamburger ad for Sonic , a teen who bought two sandwiches tells her father, “Buy two of everything. That’s my shopping mantra. Always have one in reserve.”

Realize that in our overstuffed environment we often see oceans of  overabundance of things and activities that attract us to get more or do more that lead to a cluttered and crazy lifestyle.
Recognize that some of us must avoid places that put us in contact with “supernormal stimuli”,  like malls, yard sales, and TV marketing shows. We need to say no to the many activities available as well if we want to be restored to the sanity of a well-lived and moderate lifestyle.

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