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5 Reasons to Pay Good Money for a Moleskine

5 Reasons to Pay Good Money for a Moleskine

After posting twice last week about Moleskine notebooks, I got several comments complaining about the high price of the notebooks and their perceived pretentiousness, with one person even asking somewhat accusingly if we’d made some sort of business partnership with the notebook company (we did — we’re promoting their contest and exhibition, which is why I thought it would be neat to write some posts about Moleskines).

They’re fair questions: a pocket-sized Moleskine notebook runs about $12 US and the larger ones approach $20 US. Why would you pay that kind of money for a pad of paper, when a spiral-bound pocket notebook can be had for less than a buck at most stores?

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Before I give my reasons, I should say that there are plenty of worthwhile alternatives to Moleskines (but a spiral-bound notebook isn’t one of them — sorry, Charlie!), some accurate-enough knock-offs and others taking a different approach to notebook design. I’m not as much wed to the brand as I am to the design — but the Moleskine brand is the one consistent supplier of that design. Most of what I say about Moleskies, though, can be applied to any other “luxury” notebook of similar style.

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So, here are 5 good reasons to shell out your hard-earned dough on a double-digit priced notebooks:

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  1. Moleskines are durable. With their semi-hard, vinyl covers, Moleskine notebooks stand up to the rigors of back pockets and overstuffed bags better than most other notebooks — and far better than anything spiral-bound. Though there is a limit to how many times you can sit on your Moleskine before it permanently assumes the curve of your backside, it is generally quite easy to keep a Moleskine functioning for six months or longer. Spiral-bound notebooks unravel (and the wire gets caught on everything); paper-bound notebooks fall apart from moisture, friction, and general wear.
  2. Moleskines are book-bound. Because Moleskines are bound like books, they are easy to store on a bookshelf for easy reference, or to stack for storage. Plus the rigid covers give a strong supoprt against which to write, no matter where you are.
  3. Moleskines are expensive. That might not seem like a plus to you, but hear me out. Because Moleskines have a large-ish pricetag, compared with cheap spiral notebooks or staples notepads, they tend to be taken care of more — which means that when you need it, it’s not under the sofa, out in the car, or lost who-knows-where. Instead, it’s right there in your bag or pocket, where it belongs. The perceived value of Moleskines makes it easy to integrate them into a daily routine that keeps them handy. Plus, some of that perceived value spills over onto whatever you’re capturing in your notebook — it must be important if you’re willing to spend so much on it!
  4. Moleskines feel good. Moleskines just feel good to use. The paper takes ink nicely, and is a pleasant cream-color that’s easy on the eyes and lends a richness to yourwriting. The covers are smooth and just soft enough. All these things are important, if not purely essential — just like the heft of a good hammer is worth good money to a master carpenter who could build a bench just as easily with a cheaper one.
  5. Moleskines are actually kind of affordable. Don’t forget that Moleskines come in all different styles, including specialized notebooks for sketchinig, watercolor painting, and otehr specialties. A small pad of watercolor paper can easily exceed the price of a decent-sized Moleskine Watercolor book! Moleskine’s storyboard pads and pocket accordions are virtually unique — I don’t even know where you’d find them if Moleskine didn’t make them!

Like any product, Moleskine or similar notebooks are not necessarily for everyone. But for many, they fill a pressing need with style and functionality, and that’s no little thing, no little thing at all!

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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