I Can’t Get No….Satisfaction

I Can’t Get No….Satisfaction

The ever-entertaining Seth Godin wrote recently about our society’s “culture of dissatisfaction.”

The problem with this emerging culture, aside from the fact that we’re unhappy
all the time, is that it doesn’t give marketers a chance to build products for
the long haul, to invest in the processes and products and even operating
systems that pay off over time. The problem is that when brands fizz out so
fast, it’s hard to invest in anything except building the next hot brand.

As I’ve written before, I think this dissatisfaction is the result of focusing on the wrong motivators. Extrinsic motivations like being rich, famous, and good-looking are like the proverbial Chinese food that tastes great going down but leaves you hungry half-an-hour later. (By the way, I’m Chinese, and I have to say that I’ve never run into this issue–is there any truth to this stereotype?)

The rise of the Internet has made feeding these obsessions easier than ever before. Instant billionaires. The fame of suddenly becoming an A-list blogger, or the next Turkish stud. Validation of your looks on HotOrNot.

And because these extrinsic motivators actually make people less happy, the sad fact is that the Internet is helping to make some people unhappier.

In contrast, the intrinsic motivators of personal growth, caring relationships, and contributing to the community are largely ignored, even though they drive happiness, satisfaction, and productivity.

Marketers who recognize and tap into intrinsic motivators may not get the buzz, but in the end, they will drive sustainable, beneficial business.

3 thoughts on “I Can’t Get No….Satisfaction

  1. You linked to Godin’s trackback URL again. that doesn’t work as a standard URL – only put that in the “send a trackback” box.

  2. I believe an extraction from buddhism is that two roads lead to happiness: “gather more or desire less”

    It seems on a societal level we have chosen to gather more. Therefore the focus is on improving your ability to gather – you mentioned that time management is new yuppie disease, so is loss of long term focus. You and I both agree (I think) that we are moving towards portfolio careers where we manage multiple part-time projects or short term intensive projects. That is a dangerous road for the individual who doesn’t understand that the external motives are only nice things that make your life easier, not more happy.

    The bad news is increasing pace will bring more dissatisfaction. The good news is that as the situation gets more technologically intense, unhappy people should eventually realize they are not seeking the source of happiness.

  3. Greek Philosopher Epicurus adds to the discussion…

    (note, this is paraphrased a bit)

    ” When we maintain that pleasure is the end, we do not mean the pleasures of profligates and those that consist in sensuality, as is supposed by some who are either ignorant or disagree with us or do not understand, but freedom from pain in the body and from trouble in the mind. For it is not continuous drinkings and revellings, nor the satisfaction of lusts, nor the enjoy,ent of fish and other luxuries [that] produce a pleasant life, but sober reasoning, searching out the motives for all choice and avoidance, and banishing mere opinions [that cause] the greatest disturbance of the spirit.”

    A wise man, he founded the school of Epicureanism pre third century BC, and Locke gets credit for the persuit of happiness thing?!?!?

    Interestingly enough he advocated abandoning social duties (“we must release ourselves from the prison of affairs and politics”) but not social relationships (“Of all the things which wisdom acquires to produce the blessedness of the complete life, far the greatest is the possession of friendship”).

    I prefer Stoicism which takes the view that happiness is the extreme good and can be found only in virtue (uh-oh democrats http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com/2006/02/shiny-happy-republicans.html).

    Thought of your money doesn’t equal happiness while reading my history textbook… seems like western civ has applications in life even if my teacher isn’t the greatest (thank god for books).


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