By definition, consumerism is in total contrast to mindfulness:
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 lookout for the next best thing, when more often what we have is still in good condition, fully functional and wholly adequate.
Fashion, trends and marketing initiatives lure the mind into believing that we need more than we have and better than what we currently own. The ramifications of this are a materially conscious society judging each other by what one does and doesn't own.
Grasping after the latest car, phone or item of clothing is an addiction that takes over the mind.
For many people life revolves entirely around accumulating more money to buy more things, with the mind residing in a constant quest to acquire more luxurious, society-approved goods than their peers. Such a state of mind makes for a tormented soul, particularly for those without the funds to maintain their material aspirations.
The consumer society we live in completely unaligned with mindfulness philosophy because it causes mental suffering through constant desire. There is no reality in a world of consumerism. All awareness of true reality is lost. The awareness of self and the intricate human connection with Mother Nature is lost in the deluded notion that “just one more handbag will make me happier”.
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 was certainly a victim for a large portion of my life.
We clutter up our lives with “things”, many of which we seldom use or make good use of. We clutter our living environment with more than we need yet still live with the constant desire for more bigger and better “things”.
This isn't conducive to finding contentment and harmony with one's self. The grasping is a vicious circle, one that never ends, no matter how much one acquires.
But we aren't all doomed; quite the contrary. By simply becoming aware that we are being drawn in by the incessant marketing that traps the mind in this convincing vice, we can break free and subjectively see that the grasping mind is misleading our awareness and leading us astray.
If you find yourself trapped in the “next best thing” cycle, instead of rushing out to buy that new phone, bag or pair of shoes, reverse the process by simply minimizing what you own.
By this I mean getting rid of stuff you don't need.
Spend a deserved day going through all those things cluttering your life that represent your relentless quest to buy the feel good factor.
Identify stuff you just don't use or don't need but that has the potential to better the life of somebody less fortunate. Give those things to charity or someone you know who could really make use of it.
For example, I deliberately haven’t been replacing old t-shirts and jeans this year. I used to have six or more pairs of jeans for varying occasions; now I just have three. And it feels great. I have less to consider when I get ready to go out, less cluttering up my wardrobe and less to wash, and I got a soul-satisfying feeling giving three pairs of jeans to my local Oxfam shop.
I now buy less clothes and completely ignore fashion trends. I wear what I like to wear.
I have applied this philosophy to technology like old computers, phones charges, etc. So what If I might be able to sell it; the likelihood is I'd never get around to it and it's just cluttering up my home, and in turn, my mind.
Right now, aside from the furniture, TV, my computer and other essential bits of technology, I probably have around 40kg of belongings, 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?”
Take a moment today to meditate on consumerism; what it represents and how it affects the way you act, think and feel. Is it time you stopped buying stuff you don't need and freed your life of the material grasping and subsequent mental clutter that traps you in the “keeping up with the Jones'” mindset”
Let me know how you get on. Right now I'm off to do my weekly email clear out…