Society convinces us that what’s good for the economy is good for us too. This message is delivered to us by every magazine, television, newspaper, and billboard, at every bus stop, grocery store, and airport. It finds us in our cars, it’s made its way onto our clothing. Happiness, we learn, is just around the corner and it requires that we consume just one more thing. And then just one thing more after that. So we do, we find out that the happiness of consumption is thin and fleeting, and rather than thinking to ourselves, “Gosh, that promise of happiness-by-consumption was a lie,” we instead think, “Gosh, I must not have consumed enough and I probably need just one small upgrade to my stereo, car, wardrobe, or wife, and then I’ll be happy.”
We live in the shadow of a great lie, and by the time we figure out that it is a lie we are closing in on death and have become irrelevant consumers, and a new generation of young and relevant consumers takes our place in the great chain of shopping.
Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist, professor, and author