Variety is the Curse of Life

Beer used to be easy. There were six or seven large breweries. They made a signature recipe and a lite version. You were loyal to your brand, and you bought in bulk because it was cheaper that way. Sometime in the late 1990’s that all began to change.

Suddenly there were ice beers and amber beers and red beers. Then came the microbrews and the imports. Novelty was the order of the day, and novelty sold well! More microbreweries sprung up everywhere. Brewmasters strained their creativity to produce endless new varieties. Obscure brands from halfway around the world began showing up in the local liquor store. Connoisseurs emerged who wouldn’t be caught dead sipping anything that emerged from a corporate vat.

That trend has continued for decades and I am ashamed to admit that I’ve periodically been caught up in the enthusiasm and snobbery.

So, why am I telling you this story? Because this cycle is everywhere anymore. Baseball cards have followed a similar path. So has wine. Athletic shoes. Watches. Coffee.

Am I saying that new is bad? No, far from it. Innovation is the key to long term success. But seeking the new, merely because it is new, is a gateway to despair.

It’s a treadmill that is difficult to escape. If you keep running, you’ll become overwrought and exhausted, but if you step off, you can fall into the hole in your life where the new once held sway. Healing that hole is a long and painful process.

Better to avoid it altogether. My solution is utility. Don’t be a collector. Acquire what you need and avoid what you merely want. Be purposeful. Resist trends. Fail to conform. This is the path to contentedness.


I am addicted to learning about why. From nutrition to neuroscience and philosophy to behavioral economics I am always seeking to understand. When I am not completely immersed in the latest book to catch my eye or practicing Brazilian jujitsu, I am usually cooking for my wonderful wife, playing with my two beautiful kids or out running with one of our dogs.

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