A few moments ago, I caught myself feeling a familiar niggle: I looked at the Amazon.com shortcut on my toolbar and thought, I want to buy something.

This thought appears at least once a week, usually when I’m frustrated with work. When I succumb to the urge, I’ll order a book, a DVD or food (tea or energy bars). I used to give in more often, but I’ve gained some control by recognizing the urge for what it is: a desire to escape, to read, to watch a good show, or eat something yummy — in short, to enjoy my time rather than just enduring it.

I have plenty of books. In fact, I have a good selection of unread books, at least 6 or 8 that I recall. But even if I didn’t have a fair number of shiny new books sitting around, I have a few dozen books and audio books that I thoroughly enjoyed and would like to experience again. And I’ve got more or less the same situation with DVDs; there’s a whole queue full of movies I want to see on Netflix Instant and a box full of DVDs sitting under the desk. I have more diversions than I could enjoy in a month of vacation. I don’t need more.

So why buy?

I guess part of it is that buzz of acquisition that gets shopaholics into so much trouble. It feels good to click that BUY NOW button, to have the means and the power to get something new. But the joy of having something new wears off fast, and then you’re left with the guilt of having paid for something you aren’t using.

These days, I try to be more careful before I hit that button, to weigh my motives before I buy. Most of us don’t need more things; we’re trying to satisfy some other need, something that’s more elusive. So I challenge you to think twice the next time a whim strikes you to get another album, DVD, book, or game, and ask yourself what you’re really after — before you click BUY.

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