Consumerism, by definition, isn’t mindful, that’s for sure. The preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods, or, put another way; the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable. Consumerism encourages us to be on the look out for the next best thing, when more often what we have is still in good condition and fully functional. Fashion, trends and marketing initiatives pull us into believing that we need more than we have and better than what we currently own. The ramifications of this is a materially conscious society judging each other by what we do and don’t have.
Grasping after the latest car, phone or fashionable clothing item takes over people’s lives. There are people whose lives revolve entirely around accumulating more money to buy more things, and their minds reside in a constant quest to have as much or more than their peers. This can be a tormenting life for some, particularly those without the funds to maintain their aspirations. The reason as to why this can’t be part of a mindful existence is because there is no reality in a world of consumerism. At the core of mindfulness is a deep awareness of existence, real existence; the existence of an intricate human connection with every living organism.
It is easy to get drawn into the trap of consumerism, and on one level or another we are all guilty in some respect; I certainly have been a victim for a large portion of my life. We clutter up our lives with “things”, many of which we rarely use or make good use of. We clutter our living environment with more than we need and still grasp for more, bigger and better “things”.
This isn’t conducive to happiness and certainly not mindfulness. And from these observations emerges a great mindfulness exercise. Since the beginning of the year I have been minimalizing my life. By this I mean getting rid of stuff I don’t need – giving it to charity and people in need, of course. I deliberately haven’t been replacing worn out t-shirts or jeans. For example i used to have 5 or more pairs of jeans for varying occasions, now I just have 2 pairs; less to think about = a less cluttered mind. I buy less clothes and ignore trends, and instead I wash more and thus have a smaller selection of clothes. Aside from the TV and furniture I probably have around 40kg of belongings now and it feels amazing. I just have what I need, and every time I feel tempted to buy something just because it’s a good deal I ask myself, “Do I really need it?”
So my mindfulness exercise for you for this week is do meditate on consumerism and what it represents. To stop buying stuff you don’t need and free your life of material grasping and clutter. Right, I am off to do my Sunday email clear out. Bye for now.