Splurge? When was the last time you heard someone use splurge in a sentence?
For me, it’s been years—maybe decades. I remember a time, though, when splurge was a relatively common word. It’s been a while, but I can still remember when it wasn’t at all unusual to hear someone say something like: “I’m going to splurge and have a chocolate sundae for dessert tonight,” or “Why don’t we splurge and buy that painting we saw at the gallery this morning?”
So what happened to the word? Well, this is just a guess, but I think we quit talking about splurging after a lot of us started buying just about whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it. Once splurging became a matter of course, the word lost all meaning. And that’s too bad, because giving ourselves permission to be self-indulgent occasionally makes life more exciting. On the other hand, getting just about whatever we want whenever we want it turns (former) treats into boring, everyday fare. Consequently, it takes more to excite us.
When we actually splurge, we tend to savor. And when we savor something we enjoy it much more. Take a chocolate sundae, for example. One every once in a while as a special treat tastes a lot better than one eaten every night in front of the TV.
Researchers have observed the impact of overconsumption on savoring and happiness. According to a pair of psychological studies, overconsumption inhibits savoring, and savoring enhances pleasure; therefore, over-indulgent consumption undercuts pleasure and happiness. So while we may think that reducing our consumption of wanted-but-unneeded stuff will make us unhappy, in fact, cutting back the amount we consume—and savoring more intensely the stuff we do consume—will almost certainly make our lives richer and better.
 Quoidbach, Jordi, Elizabeth W. Dunn, K. V. Petrides, Moïra Mikolajczak. 2010. “Money Giveth, Money Taketh Away: The Dual Effect of Wealth on Happiness.” Psychological Science. Vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 759-763; Chancellor, Joseph, and Sonja Lyubomirsky. 2011. “Happiness and Thrift: When (Spending) Less Is (Hedonically) More.” Journal of Consumer Psychology. Vol. 21, pp. 131-138.