The wretched excess file: Why is Starbucks selling $7 coffee?

2 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: The Flash Card Machine provides this thought about “wretched excess.”


Wretched Excess

The Protagonist pushes the limits of acceptable behavior, destroying themselves in the process

Josh Sanburn reports in the Time article, The $7 Cup of Starbucks: A Logical Extension of the Coffee Chain’s Long-Term Strategy:

This week Starbucks began selling a cup of coffee for $7. This may seem ridiculous, but it’s the logical next step of the chain’s long-term marketing strategy: To convince consumers that a product that used to sell for less than a buck is in fact worth much more.

In almost 50 locations throughout the Northwest, coffee drinkers can find a curious item next to peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes: Costa Rica Finca Palmilera, a hard-to-grow bean also called “Geisha” that sells for $7 for a “grande” and $40 for a half-pound bag.

What does it take to produce happiness in the average person?

Marilyn Elias reported in a 2002 USA Today article, Psychologists now know what makes people happy:

The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities and, most important, forgive easily….

The happiest people spend the least time alone. They pursue personal growth and intimacy; they judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have.

“Materialism is toxic for happiness,” says University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener. Even rich materialists aren’t as happy as those who care less about getting and spending.

Moi wrote about altruism in Should Christmas gifts be banned? What is the meaning of a gift? Altruistic people are often happier.

According to PBS’ This Emotional Life and the discussion of altruism:

Acts of kindness

Altruism—including kindness, generosity, and compassion—are keys to the social connections that are so important to our happiness. Research finds that acts of kindness—especially spontaneous, out-of-the ordinary ones—can boost happiness in the person doing the good deed.

Reasons why acts of kindness make people happier:

  • Being generous leads us to perceive others more compassionately; we typically find good qualities in people to whom we are kind

  • Being kind promotes a sense of connection and community with others, which is one of the strongest factors in increasing happiness

  • Being generous helps us appreciate and feel grateful for our own good fortune

  • Being generous boosts our self-image; it helps us feel useful and gives us a way to use our strengths and talents in a meaningful way

  • Being kind can start a chain reaction of positivity; being kind to others may lead them to be grateful and generous to others, who in turn are grateful and kind to others

Volunteers see greater benefits than those they are serving

One study followed women with multiple sclerosis (MS) who volunteered as peer supporters to other patients. They received training in compassionate listening techniques and called the patients to talk and listen for 15 minutes at a time. The study followed the volunteers for three years and found that they had increased self-esteem, self-acceptance, satisfaction, self-efficacy, social activity, and feelings of mastery. The positive outcomes for the volunteers were even greater than for the patients they were helping. 

Compassion fosters happiness, but being sacrificial reduces well-being

Being kind and compassionate is linked to greater happiness, greater levels of physical activity well into old age, and longevity. One important caveat: if people get overextended and overwhelmed by helping tasks, as can happen with people who are caregivers to family members, their health and quality of life can rapidly decline. It seems being generous from an abundance of time, money, and energy can promote well-being; but being sacrificial quickly lowers well-being. This seems to be a good argument for communities sharing the burden for everyone’s benefit.

A gift should be an act of altruism, otherwise it is a form of extortion. People who pay $7 for a cup of coffee are within their rights and have their free will to do so. They probably would be happier being more modest.

The answer to why Starbucks is selling a $7 cup of coffee other than it can, is because the think they have found a bumper crop of morons.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr.

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