Zen Tip Tuesday

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May 13, 2019

I pondered what to write for my contribution to Zen Tip Tuesday with Min from Write of the Middle, then my daughter sent me an email with a link to an article by James Clear and I found my topic for this week. I then stumbled across another post 12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk. Isn’t is lovely how serendipity works sometimes.

Decluttering and downsizing has become the latest ‘must dos’ in our endeavours to find happiness in our life. Who hasn’t watched at least one episode of Mary Kondo and immediately started tidying up!

I know when I was recently decluttering my MIL’s home and my own possessions it felt like a bottomless pit. Just when I thought there was nothing more to give away or dispose of, more items seemed to appear.

We promise ourselves we will live more of a minimalist lifestyle but how long do our good intentions last? Which brings me to the topic in the article Rachel sent me.

Have you heard of the Diderot Effect?

I hadn’t until I read James’ article:
The Diderot Effect: Why We Want Things We Don’t Need — And What to Do About It

The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things. As a result, we end up buying things that our previous selves never needed to feel happy or fulfilled.

Overcoming the Didero Effect – Live Simply

James Clear author of Atomic Habits, is the creator of Habits Academy and also a photographer. In his article, James explains what the Didero Effect is and how we all fall into the trap of reactive purchases. Buying things that we don’t necessarily need . Quoting some examples from his post:

I recently bought a new car and I ended up purchasing all sorts of additional things to go inside it. I bought a tire pressure gauge, a car charger for my cell phone, an extra umbrella, a first aid kit, a pocket knife, a flashlight, emergency blankets, and even a seatbelt cutting tool.

You buy a new couch and suddenly you’re questioning the layout of your entire living room. Those chairs? That coffee table? That rug? They all gotta go.

You buy a new dress and now you have to get shoes and earrings to match.

Any of the above sound familiar? Perhaps you have other examples you can give.

So how do we overcome the urge to keep purchasing and accumulating?

James details 6 ways we can master the Diderot Effect

  1. Reduce exposure by recognising the cues or triggers
  2. Buy items that fit your current system – buy the dress but see what accessories you have in your wardrobe that can be worn with the new dress.
  3. Set self-imposed limits and live a carefully constrained life
  4. Buy One Give One – each time you purchase something give one thing away
  5. Go one month without buying something new
  6. Let go of wanting things

Do you a victim of the Didero Effect?

Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Debbie Harris May 13, 2019 at 21:38

    Fab post Sue and all so true!! I love how serendipity works 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 14, 2019 at 04:34

      Thanks Deb! I found the article Rachel sent me very interesting. I also love the word ‘serendipity’ and happy I found a way to use it! LOL:) Have a great week. xx

  • Reply The Widow Badass May 14, 2019 at 06:00

    Interesting, Su! I did not know about the Diderot effect. I’m sure I’ve fallen victim to it before. Now I’ll have to make sure it doesn’t colour any future purchases. Awareness is the first step!
    Thanks for this post,


  • Reply Pat May 14, 2019 at 06:36

    I’m thinking of putting myself on a “buy nothing” month (except fresh food). I’m finding that my Amazon habit is picking up. Here in the US, you can buy practically anything on Amazon and I’ve paid for the “free shipping” option for a year. It’s deadly…. I see or hear about something, pop over to Amazon and buy it (my credit card is even automatically in the system), it shows up in 2 days. Books, a new vitamin supplement, things for a hobby, things to help in my physical therapy, even clothes. Ack. It’s not the Diredo effect, it’s the Amazon effect. 🙁

  • Reply Retirement Reflections May 14, 2019 at 09:13

    Hi, Sue – I hadn’t heard of the Diderot Effect either. It makes complete sense! I like the tips that you suggested — especially Buy Nothing for one month, and when buying something new, know our triggers and work to reduce them!

  • Reply Min @ Write of the Middle May 14, 2019 at 14:15

    Yes I’ve been a victim of the Diderot Effect before many times (though I’ve never heard that term before)! It’s so easy to get caught up in it isn’t it? I’ve found that it’s helped since I’m not exposed to a vast variety of tempting shops as much anymore (no longer working in the city). The biggest problem for me these days is the ‘temptations’ brought to me by social media and those emails about ‘special deals’ that end up in my inbox! However, I’ve learnt to understand myself and my triggers and I’m more specific about what I want or need these days. I do my research and make my purchase (quite often online) and there’s no getting swept away making additional unnecessary purchases. Thanks so much for linking up with #ZTT Sue. Enjoy your week! xo

  • Reply Candi Randolph May 14, 2019 at 20:31

    I didn’t know there was a term for this, Sue, but it makes sense, and yes I’ve done it. Not on a large scale, but it is so easy to fall into that line of thinking. I have given myself a restriction of not making discretionary purchases for one month, and that went well for the most part. I really like the idea of ‘buy one, give one’. Great post! xo

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  • Reply Erica/Erika May 15, 2019 at 12:49

    Hi Sue, This is the first time I have heard about the Diderot Effect. I am a work in progress trying to declutter and downsize. Learning about this Effect will help me be more conscious of buying and bringing new items into my life. Thank you Sue for an informative post:) Erica

  • Reply Natalie May 16, 2019 at 00:26

    Thank you, Sue, for an informative post and the useful tips. I’ve minimized buying new items and am in decluttering phase. #MLSTL

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au May 20, 2019 at 11:46

    I tell my Mum this all the time Sue – she tends to impulse shop a lot and her wardrobe is STUFFED full of clothes and accessories (a lot still with the labels on). Each time I’m with her and she’s buying a new top or two (or three) I ask her which ones she’s donating to make room for the new ones. I’m not sure it’s working but I can only hope. The thought of clearing all that stuff out of her house and my MIL’s house brings me out in hives!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric May 20, 2019 at 17:03

      I know BBB. We took Luisa shopping for Mother’s Day and although she definitely doesn’t need more clothes, at nearly 93 I suppose she deserves to splurge. Although there is absolutely no room in her wardrobe. The deal is she has to pack up the clothes she doesn’t want for charity but I’m not sure that will happen under her own steam!

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