”I like the ones without the tulips,’’ Steve Jobs on toilet paper in Wired (1996).


Maybe I’ve been going about things backwards?

A friend passed me an article on the endowment effect in an old copy of Scientific American Mind.

It got me thinking about whether choice affects our sense of belonging.

If you knew about the endowment effect before me, then you understand that people in Western societies value objects they own and specifically, objects they’ve chosen, over ones they haven’t.



We place great importance and significance on these objects. Not only do they become a way of expressing our identity but our choice of certain objects over others reflects qualities we would like to be associated with, according to the article written by Bruce Hood, a UK professor.

Basically, we bond more with objects we choose than those we don’t.

Can I expand this theory to include countries?

I didn’t choose Australia. I chose to live in France and the UK, but not Australia. This country was an accident, or for the more politically correct, a surprise.

I came here for Love. The love of an Englishman. Go figure.

We thought we might be here a year or two. Then we moved from Sydney to Brisbane for Opportunity. And here we are a decade later with Australian children. Did I think 10 or 20 or 30 years ago that I would be living in Brisbane now? No way.

OK. So I didn’t choose this city or this country, as I have slowly and carefully chosen the pens in my collection.

But I can choose other things. I can choose the communities I want to be part of, the activities that I want to do, and I can pick the people I want to spend time with.

And I’m going to start by choosing a volunteer activity that I will commit to for the rest of the year.

Lots of people have mentioned gardening. I have a lot of plant allergies so I could see gardening for a weekend or day but not an entire year. Others have mentioned that it needs to be something I’m passionate about.

I love music and play classical flute. And I do like art and paper and pens and notebooks. I’m sure I can turn one of those into Operation Volunteer.

What’s your favourite item and who chose it?

And just for the record: I like the recycled toilet paper with the little green frogs.