When moving into a new home have you ever just lay on the floor soaked up the vastness and emptiness of the room and just felt free? Have you ever run around that big empty house like a 12-year-old kid playing tag?
What is it about big, new empty spaces that just feel so good? Why is it when we start to fill up those empty spaces we start to feel more and more overwhelmed? I mean we purchase things to make our lives easier and more convenient, so why is it that within a few days or weeks that free feeling of openness dissipates once our belongings are moved in?
Do we just have too much stuff? Possibly, for some maybe they do have just way too much however, for some maybe they do not have enough stuff but the feeling remains the same.
I think the answer lies in one simple truth – consumerism has taught us that there is never enough stuff, that we will not be happy until we have more and better. Why then, do so many people want to lead a simpler life without all the hustle and bustle and all the stuff but can never seem to get there?
Consumerism. Plain and simple.
Look throughout history at how consuming more and fueling the desire to have better has rapidly changed the dynamics of our lives. Before the industrial revolution, most families lived and worked together – they were a team. Now, we have parents who work more than the just the 9-5 and with laptops, iPads, and smartphones, working 24/7 is possible. Parents are hardly home with their children and when they are, they are most likely attached to a device, still working.
Parents and individuals work so much these days trying to provide a better life for either their children or themselves not realizing, that someone sitting in a boardroom has sold the “better life” to them. If your definition of a better life is to work forever, save nothing, but have every new gadget, new car, big fancy house, and three closets full of gorgeous never-worn clothing, than you are on the right track to living such a life.
I do not know about you, but that definition of a better life just does not work for me. Of course, money does unfortunately make living easier, so someone has to work. Does that mean they have to work just to provide a bunch of stuff that will most likely be outdated or replaced in a few months or years?
Call me old-fashioned but truthfully, I would rather have less stuff and a full life. I’d much rather be outside playing in the mud with my boys pointing out the different bugs than to watch them entertain themselves with some app on a tablet that is supposed to educate them.
When I was caught up in the game of “I have to this NOW because it will solve all my problems!” I was so overwhelmed and stressed. Heck, cleaning even took forever because of all the junk. I had clothes that did not look right on me but they were the latest trend. I had the fully loaded SUV (twice!) because that is what moms are supposed to have. At one point, I had three mops because each one was supposed to clean better than the other did.
How do we stop this nasty viral consumerism? The easy answer is to not purchase anything ever but then that can sometimes be next to impossible. The better answer is to become aware of what your spending triggers are, track your expenses, set clear specific goals, and learn how to tell yourself “I really don’t want this”. Telling yourself “no” usually results in you feeling deprived or cheated, so instead just tell yourself that it is not what you want and does not contribute to your goals.
Live the simpler life; leave the need to consume more go. You will be happier, healthier, and financially better if you do. Living a simple life will not solve every problem under the sun, but it will make the silly issues that once overwhelmed you go away.
What is your take on consumerism? How are you fighting back against the need to have more and better?
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