The French philosopher Denis Diderot became a wealthy man at age 52 and was able to afford small indulgences.
He started with a scarlet robe and continued with other items, because they were not matching the elegance of that robe. The joy of everything he bought was short-lived. Piece by piece, Diderot replaced every item in his home.
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It is a term that characterizes the tendency for purchases to generate new purchases.
Example: We set up a gym membership, and then we think we need better workout clothes, headphones, towels, a combination lock, and a bag to carry everything.
We live better lives than Denis Diderot and his peers and yet we always crave for more. We decide our refrigerator isn’t nice enough; not when the latest models are wifi-enabled with touch screens.
But our situation is more forgiving. We can always simplify. We can downsize into modest homes. We can shop less and give away more.
We often fill our lives with possessions we don't need.
This is named the Diderot Effect: the tendency to over-consume, spurred by our need for betterment.
The 'less is more' term is applied to many philosophies, products or lifestyle choices.
The definitions are broad, from intending to reflect on the damage we're doing to the world to Marie Kondo method that helps people live meaningful lives with less. Marie encourages people to declutter and only hold on to the possessions that 'sparks joy.'