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How Many Lemonades Can You Drink?

And why museums are one thing you can consume without moderation

You know that joy you get from consuming something new – that first drink, a new pair of shoes or the latest iPhone – well imagine having those feelings increase the more you consume.

A lot of the things we buy today are satisfying at first but become much less so the more we consume them. Take lemonade. Nothing feels better than that first gulp when you’re thirsty, but when you get to your third lemonade you’re about ready to throw up. The term for that is sugar overload, or decreasing marginal utility.

Image: Sports Illustrated

It even applies to sports. After years of strong ratings, average television audience numbers during last year’s National Football League season were down sizably across the board. Aside from the very exciting presidential elections, could it be due to the fact that there’s Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football and Sunday Night Football? The NFL seemed to think people had nothing else to do with their time, but now people don’t seem to find enough value in the sport to cancel their Thursday night dates.

All this is why we often hear the terms ‘too much of a good thing’ and ‘all in moderation’. But it doesn’t apply to everything. Music is one of those things we can consume all day, every day. Books too, and museums! One great album, or text, or work of art, or just a great experience at a museum with friends, will make you want more, always. Cultural goods in general don’t abide by the rule of decreasing marginal utility. The more music you listen to, the more you read, the more you go to the museum, the greater the satisfaction!

Google why and you’ll find a million different reasons. Maybe it’s as simple as it makes us feel better about ourselves on a deeper level for a longer period of time. It gets the creative juices flowing which makes us wonder and question which then helps us frame our thoughts in ways we, individually, can consume.

When it comes to feeling good about ourselves, that seems more sustainable than buying the iPhone 7 until the iPhone 8 comes out. And word on the street is that “you’ll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling” than on physical objects.

Image: FastCompany

So let loose! Listen to more tunes, browse the shelves of the bookstore on your walk home or go for stroll at the museum. That good feeling you’ll have could surprise you.

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