Compliments of emkeller via Flickr

It’s my pleasure to welcome a new entrant to the blogosphere: Dr. Robert Giacalone, Professor of Human Resource Management at Temple University. One year ago Dr. Jeff Cornwall introduced me to this realm on his blog The Entrepreneurial Mind. I’m delighted that I now have the opportunity to pay it forward.

Giacalone’s blog,, is a philosophical look at life issues – many of which clog our ability to be of service to others. In the spirit of organizing, he explains that we’re governed by a “shopping cart” mentality, one that often overrides our better judgment.

The desire to keep up with the Joneses (and its negative impact on personal relations) is congruent with themes I’ve mentioned in my own blog – i.e., that in the final analysis family and friends are all we truly have. In our frantic race to the top, we forget that we can’t take it with us, and that our lasting legacy lies in who we touched (and not what we have taken). Giacalone sagely notes:

“It is no surprise we aren’t happy. We are too busy filling the metaphorical shopping cart to pay much attention to anything else. We fail at happiness because we are not focusing on doing those things that bring happiness. There is no time left to do important things because we are so busy running around accumulating and acting competitively with others.”

I think we could all take a lesson from the tips he offers regarding priorities. He suggests that before making a purchase, we ask ourselves the following questions: 

  • Do I really need this?
  • Will it make me happy?
  • What am I hiding from? [“shop therapy” is probably covering a deeper problem]
  • Why do I care what the Joneses have?
  • How can I allocate my resources to help someone else?

Easterbrook in The Progress Paradox echoes his sentiments:  

“Perhaps men and women must reexamine their priorities – demanding less, caring more about each other, appreciating what they have rather than grousing about what they do not have, giving more than lip service to the wisdom that money cannot buy happiness.”

Interestingly, Jeff Cornwall’s January 2, 2012 blog post is entitled More Money is not always a Good Thing.

One of Easterbrook’s primary arguments is that we as a society have substituted “meaning want” for “material want.” Clutter in our lives is created when we wallow in excess. In a related vein, Jack Canfield argues: One of the ways to free up attention units is to free your living and work environment from the mental burden of …clutter.”  

To start the New Year on a positive note, I purged closets and donated the unneeded. The lightened load of having less helps me better focus on what’s important. Two of my resolutions include buying fewer items and purchasing things of quality– so that these purges are not necessary in the first place.

clutter awaiting its new home

During the coming year I’ll share Professor Giacalone’s insights with you. His work in ethics and antisocial behavior has much to offer.

Best in 2012!

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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