Why the Spotlight Effect may make you Stressed & Unhappy despite having Money

(Last Updated On: 08/11/2016)

Why spending lesser than you earn is so damn freaking hard to do despite it being a very simple concept that a 5 years old can understand?

It is a simple maxim which forms the foundation of personal finance success, yes? It’s the core of EVERYTHING. Trouble brews when people don’t feel alarmed getting into deficit all the time.

It is so hard because the answer lies in our mind. Our psychology. Our mind is playing this trick on us.

Pay attention to this section:

Ponder over this question honestly: Unless you’re specifically looking for it, how often do you really notice the choices of others? Even when you notice, how often do you really care?

Very likely – the only time you notice things about most people is when they’re doing something completely ridiculous in such a way that they’re clearly seeking attention or doing something that’s potentially destructive to you.

Also,  do you agree that you rarely even pay much attention for a period more than a day on the lifestyle choices of your friends and family?

And you barely notice any details about your casual acquaintances, or friends/relatives you only meet once a year.

shark fin versus white curry mee
Brain Teaser – What white curry mee and shark fin has to do with this? Hint – read till the end

Yet, when you are doing things in the presence of colleague, friends or even strangers, you feel like they’re all noticing every little thing.

Those two things don’t make sense. How come you don’t notice lots of things about other people, yet expect that people are constantly noticing lots of things about you?

Enter the Spot Light Effect. 

After watching the video, do yourself a favor and ask – what are the things that you don’t care about or don’t make you happier in your life? Your brand of clothes? Type of car you drive?

It a mistake to view frugality as self-denial and a path to a life that doesn’t involve personal enjoyment.

That’s not true at all. All frugality means is that you recognize that when something has a financial cost, it’s hurting the other options in your life. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy things that cost money. The crux of the matter is that it needs to be worth that cost.

Nowadays, I got to admit, I feel immense satisfaction that I am able to spend less for an equally good quality thing compared to its more expensive substitute. Like Tesco brand dehumidifier compared to Thirsty Hippo.

Finally, more expensive things don’t always equate to more enjoyment. We are being conditioned to think if something is expensive (which bears a higher financial costs), then it must be way better than cheaper stuff. The truth is – this is subjective. Case in point –  I enjoy white curry mee at Abu Siti Lane more than shark fin’s soup at wedding dinners. How about you?

Inspired by and adapted from The Simple Dollar: How to Handle Being Ashamed of Being Frugal

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Noel, I believe you are similar if you appreciate this write up 🙂

  2. Thanks for this particular video. I am delighted that you are one of those people who do not mind being judge. It really helps a lot by knowing this especially living ina a society. Thanks again.

  3. I believe being frugal is a virtue despite the fact that people will taunt and call you a cheapskate.

    I, for one, am very frugal. I was taught this way by my mum since I was young.

    Someone one called me a “Cheap Charlie” and I told him “… but my name is not Charlie”. Hahahahahaha.

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