You May Want To Think Twice About Accepting Freebies

freestuff_slide1Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
One habit that I try hard to cultivate is to stay on top of clutter.
Advertisement
Clutter seems trivial, but I’ve found — and many people have told me that they’re the same way — that clutter weighs me down more than it should. Something like a crowded coat closet or an overflowing inbox is a petty problem, but then when I clear out that area, I feel so much more energetic, creative, and happy. It’s weird. I have a lot of habits that I follow to stay on top of clutter. I follow the one-minute rule (anything I can do in less than a minute, I go ahead and do without delay). I don’t get organized.
Because I’m focused on clutter-busting, I’m now very wary of anything that’s free. Getting something for free makes it feel like a treat — and oddly, it makes me feel greedier. I’m excited when I get something without paying — even if it’s something I’d never choose to buy. For instance, getting free food and drink is a challenge to my healthy eating habits, and research shows that getting a food or drink sample makes shoppers feel hungrier and thirstier, and puts them in reward-seeking state. Also, an important strategy for habit-formation is the strategy of loophole-spotting, and getting something for free can provide loopholes. For example, we can use it to argue that “this doesn’t count,” as in: “These cookies are compliments of the chef, they’re free, they don’t count.” But, everything counts.
Now, instead of unthinkingly accepting a freebie, I ask: Would I choose to buy this thing? If not, I probably don’t really need or want it, even if getting it feels like a treat. When I spoke at a company recently, I mentioned this habit during the question-and-answer period. Afterward, the event organizer said, “I know this is ironic, but here’s a little something for you.” He handed me a company water bottle and a box of fancy chocolates.
“Thanks!” I said. “This looks great, even if it is free.” We both laughed — but in fact, I really didn’t want those freebies. My family already has a lot of water bottles (because these days, they’re so often given out for free), and I don’t eat chocolate. I appreciated the kindness and generosity of the gesture, and I accepted the things, because I didn’t want to be rude, but I had to figure out ways to get rid of them usefully, which was a bit of trouble.
How about you? When you consider the sources of clutter in your life, do you find that freebies make up a percentage of the stuff?
Advertisement

More from Living

Twitter has gone wild after a teen posted a bread-based personality test. The teen, 18-year-old Floridian Kelly Blaus, posted a meme that matched bread ...
Update: Greathouse has just relented on his Twitter feed, calling the original blog post "dreadful" and apologizing that he "told women to endure the ...
Remember when dorm drama just meant your roommate eating the last of your Oreos without asking, or talking on the phone too loudly while you were trying ...
This no-bake confetti fudge takes minutes to put together and will satisfy any sweet tooth
'Tis the season for pumpkin spice and everything nice — am I right? We thought there was no better way to celebrate than with a doughnut
You might think tying the knot on Valentine's Day is romantic. Or maybe you think it's totally tacky. Setting aside whatever personal opinions you have ...
There are plenty of great ways to get excited for Halloween. You can decorate your home with creepy props, start working on your costume, or stuff your ...
(Paid Content) Your next weekend away has to be in Toronto. Period
Chrissy Teigen, the model turned TV host turned cookbook author, has amassed Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat followings in the millions. The secret to ...
I get so nervous before job interviews — sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in my stomach. It’s really not fun. But once I’m sitting down with the ...
Ever since Yalonda and Kayla Solseng met back in March 2014, they've been living their own real-life fairy tale. The couple recently told the Huffington ...
You've seen Tom Cruise scale the Burj Khalifa. You've heard about the bottomless, all-day brunches. You're dying to prolong summer just a teensy bit longer...
We teamed up with Pinterest to help you find the Halloween costume of your dreams. Take a spin on the Hallo-wheel for a new idea (or 10) every day
A Google search for "mooning" pulls up expected results: some news articles about protestors pulling down their pants, and the formal dictionary definition...