We are the most heavily marketed to culture that has ever existed. Just from where I’m sitting now I can see 15 different brand name items in my house.
And the marketing dollars these companies spend actually work. We become “brand loyal” and spend money on buying products we don’t need just because a marketing message was put in front of us enough times where our willpower to say no gave way to the joy of saying yes.
We are bombarded with these advertising messages with such frequency that our internal default has immediately become “no.”
That’s fantastic when it comes to a new 55″ TV every 6 months or a new luxury car once a year. It’s fine to have a default reaction to say “no” when a deal of the day shows up in our inbox for an item we probably don’t need.
But what about on the things that really matter?
Last week I got an email from a long time friend who happens to be in med school. It was a simple 3 sentence message asking for a $5-$10 donation as he was hoping to raise $100 total toward the St. Baldrick’s Organization. If you’re not familiar with this group they fund research grants to find cures for childhood cancers.
As I opened the email and quickly read through it my gut reaction said “no.” That’s right. I said no to helping fund cancer research for kids. But as I thought about it I realized that $20 wouldn’t break the bank and would help my friend get to 20% of his goal. More importantly it goes to a charity that is doing fantastic work.
But why was my default reaction to say no? I believe in the work this group does. I’ve been friends with this guy for almost 11 years and trust him completely. While I’m certainly not wealthy, the $5-$10 he was asking for was probably what I spent on lunch one day that week.
The reason my default reaction said “no” is because I am selfish.
And you are too.
We calculate out exactly 15% as a tip for the waitress and if we don’t have enough change we leave her a dollar short instead of a dollar extra. At Christmas time we’ll put $2 in the red kettle the first time we see it that season but avoid that entrance to the store for the rest of the year.
When a friend tries to crowd source money for a mission trip we ignore their posts on Facebook or delete their emails. We read blogs of authors where we enjoy the messages that they share for free but never spend a dime on one of their books or pay to attend an event they speak at.
We consistently say “no” to the things that really do matter yet eventually cave to the marketing pressures of a $5 lunch or $10 movie.
When someone or something you believe in approaches you with an opportunity to provide financial support it’s not a time to be selfish. Fight the urge for your default reaction to say no.
Generosity always wins. Stop being so selfish.