web analytics
March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Breakfast And Happiness (Part IV)

Rabbi Hanoch Teller

The way to cope with our insatiable nature is to distinguish between our needs and wants. If you feel that you need something and you don’t receive it, you feel deprived. The advertising world is built on instilling the compelling sense of need and dissatisfaction.

The computer industry has no match when it comes to confusing needs with wants. They want you to know that before you remove the hardware from the box it is already obsolete. “State of the art” is a status of nanosecond duration. Yet this all pales next to the software.

We once subscribed to a computer magazine (and the only reason was to acquire a free mouse pad) and had to curtail the subscription, for it was too painful to see children utilizing software that I will never comprehend.

But there was another problem with the magazine. The advertisements were making me constantly envious. No matter what I ordered, I was informed the next month that it was outmoded, archaic, antiquated, old-hat and extinct.

Here are two advertisements, just one month apart, for fancy and expensive graphic programs:

1) “Beyond reality! You need tools as unlimited as your imagination. Take your imagination beyond reality with SuperPaint. Its speed is ferocious. Its versatility is unprecedented. It’s utterly precise, astonishingly nimble, and incredibly smooth. SuperPaint has rendered its competitors speechless” (MacUser, December 1989).

2) “Theirs may be super. But now it’s yesterday’s news. Evolution’s never much fun for the newly extinct. Simply stated, UltraPaint does everything you want it to do today. And tomorrow. We’ve made UltraPaint easy, flexible, powerful, infinitely expandable, and definitely under priced. SuperPaint users take a giant step up the evolutionary ladder” (MacWorld, January 1990).

In the campaign to rob a consumer of any sense of contentedness, which translates into sales, strategy is often focused on confusing need with want and the illusion of being dissatisfied.

(I was once in Connecticut waiting to board a commuter train to New York. A fellow approached me with a very deliberate gait wearing a suit that was anything but flannel gray adorned with a large campaign button. I did not know that it was three weeks before a municipal election nor did I live within 1,000 miles of the state. And yet when this gentleman approached me – non-other than the candidate himself, wishing to oust the incumbent – and shook my hand like an avuncular wise man, I was sympathetic – nay, supportive ‑ of a cause about which I knew nothing about. His look of sheer disgust and the way he intoned, “It is time for a change!” made me want to vote for the guy even though I was not dissatisfied, had no needs that he could fulfill – and did not even know his name!)

Advertisements assault us with the message, “If you think you’re happy with what you have, you’re wrong!” An advertisement in the Chicago Tribune read, “If you’re not happy with your house, give us a call!” Who wouldn’t give them a call? No matter how much you refurnished and refurbished, it could always be better.

But there is no end to this. “If you’re not happy with your spouse, give us a call. If you’re not happy with your children give us a call.” I’d be on the phone all day long!

Sometimes, out of sheer curiosity, I compare two (supposedly) different products in the supermarket: the one advertised as “new and improved” and the one further down the shelf that is assumingly “old and unimproved.” My non-scientific research has revealed scant difference between the products.

As far as I can tell, all shampoos, maple syrups and detergents seem to be more or less the same ingredient-wise, and purport to accomplish the identical thing. And yet the advertisers are out to convince you that only one product will make you content.

The Grass-is-Always-Greener Syndrome is a potent force against satisfaction. It is driven by jealousy that mixes worse with contentedness than gas with alcohol. Indeed, jealousy is such a powerful inhibitor to contentedness that it blinds to the point that the proverbial cup is no longer a question of half-full or half-empty. It could be 90 percent full, and the jealous one will only see empty.

The solution to the conspiracy of human nature, and the advertisers, as my daughter displayed so eloquently during breakfast that morning, is “self-control” – not the most popular term in America today. Contentedness, or almost interchangeably “happiness,” can only be achieved by battling one’s appetites.

One who is prey to her lusts and desires will suffer the unhappiness of an addict. There is no appetite that cannot be addictive, which is why the free person – the one not obsessed with “what will they think of me?” – is the happy person.

(To be continued)  

Chodesh Tov – have a pleasant month!

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Breakfast And Happiness (Part IV)”

  1. This reminds me of a friend who always swore that brand-name vodka was so much better than generic vodka that he was willing to pay three or four times the price for it. I tried to explain that it all tastes like rubbing-alcohol and the cheap stuff will get you just as drunk, but he insisted that the expensive stuff tasted much better and didn't give you a headache the next day. While I admit the pricier vodkas do taste a little better, they still give you the same headaches if you drink enough and if you drink enough, the room spins at the same rate as the cheap stuff. For something to be worth three or four times more than a similar product or service, I expect it to be more than "slightly better tasting" or "slightly improved."

    In the end, by trying to get the "newest", "best", or "coolest", we end up being broke and more miserable, just like my friend, who always had the best vodka and the worst outlook on life. Or like the poor kids in the cities lining up to spend $200 on a pair of Jordan's. Happiness isn't found in a swoosh or a bottle. Not that I've cornered the market on being content or happy either.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
israel-day-parade-bds
Jewish Communal Fund Provides Millions To New Israel Fund
Latest Judaism Stories
Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Winiarz-022715-Kids

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Forever After?
‘Obligated for Challahh and Not Terumah’
(Kesubos 25a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

This was a spontaneous act of rest after the miracle of vanquishing their respective foes. The following year they celebrated on the same days as a minhag.

The way we must to relate to our young adult children is to communicate with genuine loving-kindness

Jewish prayer is a convergence of 2 modes of biblical spirituality, exemplified by Moses and Aaron

In holy places it’s important to maintain a level of silence permitting people to dialogue with God

Eventually, after some trial and error, including an experience with a prima donna and one with a thief, I baruch Hashem ultimately found a fine, honest and reliable household helper.

More Articles from Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Rabbi Hanoch Teller

Humility often confused with low self-esteem, truly means that a person realizes his true worth

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

If we are certain that God is on our side, we can easily become arrogant and even cruel

Reb Shlomo Zalman could not endure honorifics applied to him because of his enormous humility

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/chodesh-tov/breakfast-and-happiness-part-iv/2014/01/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: