Why People Still Read About Diets & How To Manage Money

I find it curious that people still have such a voracious appetite (pun intended) for diet books and continue to read about how to manage money. I suppose that’s why I’m so interested in why people think the way they do.

While some people have lost weight due to surgery (followed by healthy eating and exercise), isn’t it interesting when you encounter someone who has lost a lot of weight and someone inevitably asks, “How did you do it?” As if the answer ever changes! I think the question is less about the diet details and more about the motivation and support details.

It’s not unlike the numerous articles detailing how people can manage their money. Basic money management is the same year after year: you earn it (preferably honorably and joyfully), live below your means, share, protect what you have, save some money for later. I attempted to spin this classic tale with a measure of spirituality in my book Living Inspired and Financially Empowered: Aligning Our Spiritual and Material Lives.

It’s not that you don’t know what you need to do; it’s the “How do I do this?” aspect of finance that is so bewildering.

Perhaps it’s also the lack of proof of anyone’s balance sheet that keeps us all guessing:
“Are they doing okay? I know they had some big medical bills” 
“They must be doing well, he just bought a new car.” 
“Should we be investing more?”
and relying on material items to communicate our (real or fake) financial position.

But unlike your financial position, you can’t fake your weight, so the diet books remain popular.
I heard a really interesting report on NPR about the psychological consequences of calling obesity a disease. Research shows that there are some benefits, such as improved body image and less feelings of shame (obesity is consistently deemed a moral failure, no matter how virtuous a person is in other respects). But there are also detrimental affects, such as people assuming they cannot change their weight and, therefore, continue to eat poorly.

It seems to me that part of the human condition is not only to compare oneself with others and subsequently judge ourselves and others, but to find patterns and, foolishly, believe in those patterns.

For example, it’s not uncommon for economists to provide forecasts at the beginning of the year. They base many of their statements on what has happened in the past and the likely outcomes for us with the given set of circumstances we now face. The problem is, every day presents a completely unique set of circumstances, and we all know skinny people who eat (as my mother would say) like stevedores (which means dock workers).

I’m currently reading the Book of Job in the Bible. This wholly upright fella loses everything he holds dear: his family, his livestock, his health. And his fair-weather friends berate the him with the reasons they think he “deserves” the tragedy that’s befallen him.
They were being human.
He didn’t deserve any of it.
There’s no surprise that Harold S. Kushner’s book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, continues to sell so well: we are bewildered when life breaks the patterns we hold so dear.

Not everything follows a pattern.

About Amy Jo Lauber

I help people who are overwhelmed take control & make good financial decisions with confidence and experience peace and abundance. Are you ready to say goodbye to working hard but not having anything to show for it? Go to www.lauberfinancialplanning.com "Let's Talk" tab to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and take the first step on the path to financial empowerment.
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5 Responses to Why People Still Read About Diets & How To Manage Money

  1. John Armesto says:

    After Job suffered and he kept his faith, God rewarded him beyond his dreams.

  2. Ian Lees says:

    Could it be most people are lazy, and think that by conducting a diet over a week – or dealing with their finances over a week or other short time – they will be successful ? Weightwatchers attracts many – and loses nearly as many after each splurge. People are drive at a time of catastrophe or other event – and deal with their finances at that one point. Very few people are wiling to review their finances – or conduct an income and expenditure survey . . .to reveal their actual costs now and for the future. I believe everyone should conduct a lifetime cash flow ! Each item will attract inflation at different levels – and the costs I one area increase excessively to others EG Energy Gas Electricity Water. Holidays depending on where the holiday destination is can vary excessively. Working out a cash flow costs you in time and money. It takes time to work this out – but the benefits are amazing !

    • Thanks for your comment Ian. I’d rather not use a pejorative term such as “lazy” but rather focus on the issues that come against all of us that thwart our best intentions. Humans are wired for reward and survival, which means focusing much of our energy on our present circumstances. Having the luxury to think long-term is just that: a luxury. Certainly in my work as a financial planner I try to give my clients the tools they need to think long-term, but to think I’m going to change the nature of humanity is a bit grandiose.

  3. Pingback: Why We Judge Others & Ourselves When It Comes to Money | LIFE: Live Inspired, Financially Empowered

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