Today’s Luxury Tomorrow’s Necessity

by Ron Haynes

According to research recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, partaking of one little luxury, a truffle, was the difference in whether study participants were later able to resist other food items such as pizza, ice cream and potato chips. It’s as if eating the truffle formed a commitment in their minds to continue their indulgence. The study authors explained that one indulgence leads to another and by eating that truffle, they activated an “indulgence goal,” but participants who resisted the truffle activated a “health” goal in their subconscious.

“Consumers many times may perceive that a small act will be enough to stop cravings of fatty food items, but our research shows that small acts may lead people to unconsciously seek more indulgence.” Study authors Juliano Laran and Chris Janiszewski

BrisketLast night, after working all day and eating a late, pretty heavy lunch, I truly wasn’t hungry for supper. I arrived at my hotel around 7:30 PM, but instead of going to my room, I decided to drive around and explore the city a bit, ending up at a barbecue restaurant called Rudy’s. I told myself I was stopping because of the sign that advertised that this was also a country store, but after stepping into the building, I was captivated by the aroma of good barbecue, good TEXAS barbecue. I decided I was a little hungry and got in line to place an order. One of their workers noticed me scanning the menu and asked if I have visited before. When I told him, no, he yelled out to the pit boss, “Gimme some samples for my new customer here!” Don’t you just love Texas hospitality?

What was placed before me was brought down from angels in heaven, I’m convinced. I never knew brisket or smoked turkey breast or home-made creamed corn could taste that good. What happened next? I ordered some of each, took them back to my hotel room and ate way, way too much. Don’t ask me how much I ordered. I won’t tell you.

And so it is with the luxuries we allow ourselves to sample. Before long, we simply MUST have them. It doesn’t matter what they are; we will rationalize, we will claim that in “today’s society” these AREN’T luxuries but necessities, and we will allow ourselves to be hooked. Just like the large-mouth bass that must have that shiny, flashing thing scooting through the water, we bite and are reeled in.

But unlike the fish, we have the ability to say, “Wait a minute, I don’t want to live this way,” and we can wrest control of our lives away from our whims and away from the marketing gurus who really just want to separate us from our money. We have the ability to use the self discipline that is inside each one of us. When we resist the urge to splurge, we activate subconscious goals to better ourselves, to better our health, to better our finances, to make wise choices, and to live a better life without the encumbrance of “things.”

What’s YOUR truffle? What’s your luxury turned necessity? What things did you do without for 25 years that you now feel are vital parts of your existence? What steps can you take to reduce their influence on you?

Resisting activates goals just as indulgence activates goals. What goals are you activating in your life?


photo credit: citymama

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1000 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Nicki at Domestic Cents

My truffle actually IS a truffle. I truly love sweets. I would, and have, eaten a banana split for supper and I couldn’t agree with you more. When I decided it was finally time to take off my baby weight a couple years ago I did it by not indulging AT ALL. I couldn’t have one small truffle to tide me over because it would have wetted my sweet appetite too much. It worked too. Two years later the weight’s still off.


Oh my….how well do I know what you mean.
We have things, habits, materials, teckie stuff…ect, that needs to go!
Simply because, it costs more to have it and keep it up than it’s worth.
The stress of managing a computer and how it runs, is sometimes more than……well……anyone that has one knows what I mean.
I didn’t grow up with one like the younger folks did, so maybe they aren’t as stressed as I get.
Although, I AM managing it better! :-)

And, your article still makes me hungry. :-)

God bless America!!!

Saver in the City

If you’re still in town (I’m assuming Austin), I’d also recommend trying County Line, Iron Works and Salt Lick if only for comparison sake. Heck, you already activated your “indulgence goal” so you might as well have a little more fun! :smile:

V. Higgins

What a thought-provoking post!
I’ve definietly seen this in my own life. When my husband and I moved into our apartment we decided we were going to take advantage of the great move-in special with the cable company and have cable phone, internet and tv. After the 6 months were up they DOUBLED our bill, my husband lost his job and we switched to DSL internet, basic phone and no cable. My husband is a total nerd and our DSL is painfully slow (for him anyway :-P), we’re paying half of what we were when we moved in but he’s still pining for our 6MB internet (and I honestly miss the Discovery channel that I didn’t miss when we didn’t have cable :-P). I’m making the deal that we can’t even think about going back to cable until the CC is paid off. Hehe.
One way I try to keep my luxuries (Starbucks) from becoming necessities is having a budget of ‘fun money’ for myself. I can either choose to wittle it away with expensive coffee, smoothies, lunches out or I can save it up and get that really nice shirt/shoes/whatever that I’ve been drooling over. It makes me be much more thoughtful of how often I indulge (and how much things cost!).

Dan Massicotte

Deciding to go to Korea is definitely something that made me realize that as much as yes, we do all have these little triffles that we use to test what we eventually expect to have, they are all material and don’t match up to anything like experiencing a year in a foreign country, or something of the like.

Leading up to when I leave I cannot really accumulate too many assets, since I’ll be getting rid of them sooner than I think.


There’s nothing that can make you appreciate what you have like spending time in another country. I spent a summer in Central America when I was 17 and it forced me to realize how blessed I was.


Interesting post. Definitely food for thought ;). I will have to think about my “truffle”. I can’t wait to share this with my kids!

the weakonomist

I’m with Nicki on this one. I have no self-control with sweets. There is always someone at work with chocolate and they always let me know because everyone knows I’ll eat it.

I had two truffles at work just yesterday, and it opened the floodgates for a fatty dessert and a beer after dinner.

When I can keep away from my weakness, I’m fine. Put some fudge in front of me, and you’ll be lucky to get your container back.


I miss Texas BBQ. :)

Although, the alternative here, City Barbecue, isn’t too bad. ;)



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