Less Less Less
One of the things that’s been on my mind lately is the amount of stuff I have. I have a lot of stuff. You should have seen me try to move out of my dorm room this year: too much stuff. Mountains of it! And yet I am constantly feeling like I need more. Isn’t everyone?
We all want to snatch up the latest Apple product or the newest fashion trend. We spend our days daydreaming about that perfect lamp for our living rooms or our dream car. We just want want want more more more. All the time!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: what does it hurt? We make money, we should spend it on things that make us happy.
AHA. Therein lies the rub my friends.
Do these things honestly make us happy? Think about it. Even after you buy what you previously thought would be absolutely perfect, fufill all your needs and make your life a thousand times better, it’s not as if you’re satiated. You’re not done. It wasn’t like that one perfect product that you ‘couldn’t live without’ was the be all and end all of productivity and awesomeness in your life. No. There’s always something else. There’s always something better. We’re trained to want things that are brand-spanking new and shiny and nothing else will do.
From that constant want of the constant stream of new bigger better products, we drain ourselves. As a nation, we’ve started to work ourselves into the ground, forgetting our quality of life and trying to get more and more money to buy more and more stuff.
What’s with that?
Don’t we realize that eventually none of the stuff will matter (like, tomorrow probably when the new iPhone comes out and the old one just isn’t good enough anymore even though it was sheer perfection but months ago..) and we will have worked for nothing?
Stuff doesn’t make us happy. It doesn’t. How could it, when we can never be satisfied by the stuff we already have? Advertisements tantalizingly dangle beautiful new toys and clothes in front of our faces and make us believe they’re necessary. Where along the line did we forget that what we already have will do just fine?
Now, nobody’s saying: never buy new things! Never buy new clothes! Disregard fashion! Dismiss technology! Not at all. Obviously we have to be realistic! But I think it’s important to remember that we don’t need these things, we only want them, and they won’t make us happy. Personally, I need to stop getting so caught up in the need for wants. I need to stop spending money on new things when the things I have will do just fine.
I also need to start using my money in a better, happier way.
By not always thinking so much about myself and my creature comforts and happiness (I’m already quite comfortable!), by supporting entrepreneurs on Kiva. By donating to charities, by shopping more consciously. By not feeding giant corporations (very hard not to do).
And also by using my money to buy me happiness. Yep, I said it. Money can buy happiness! Look at this great article from Psychology Today. In a nutshell it says that money can buy you happiness if you’re putting it towards experiences instead of stuff. Vacations, sports games, concerts, movies, going to the theatre, taking a class. Our true happiness comes from making fantastic memories!
I also can’t stand being reminded how spoiled we are as a first-world society. On a recent episode of Oprah that I saw with my bff, she highlighted the ‘freegan’ lifestyle: people who eat, wear and use things that are all second hand. Many of the things they use come from the trash. But we’re not always talking a dirty old dumpster, sometimes the food will be big plastic bags of bagels that a bakery doesn’t keep after one day. Grocery stores will throw away cans just because the label was removed, entire cartons of eggs because one was broken, cereal boxes one day past their due date. And it isn’t even given to people who need it most, it’s just thrown away. Please watch this video of a ‘trash tour’ and be amazed (and a bit disgusted) by the amount of food being wasted daily. Again, nobody is asking you to start eating out of the trash, but it’s just something to think about: we as a society are so wasteful, and yet we always think we need more of everything. Isn’t there something wrong with that?
In my opinion, we all need to start trying to readjust our perceptions, start trying to opt out of the system that dictates ‘more’ and ‘new’ and wastefulness, start trying to consume less.
Of course, I’m nowhere near perfect. Like I said before, I have loads of stuff. And I have that urge to have more of it. Constantly! But I think in the coming year I’m going to do my best to:
- Consume less
- Stop feeding my need for wants
- Buy happiness through experiences, not clothes/toys
Maybe I need a challenge to get me going, something like The Uniform Project! I’ll let the video explain :)
What a fantastic idea, right? Ohmy. I love it. The sheer simplicity of it.
I think that going forward I’m going to try and train myself to want less, want simplicity, want to pare down all my silly stuff. It won’t be easy, no way. But I think it’s important. I want to be happy, and if this can help me check out of the system that seems to promise but not deliver on the happiness front, then I’m all for it!
Just something to think about, I suppose.