Tag Archives: conscious consumer

Letting It All Be Enough: Contentment as a Cure for Excessive Consumerism

Standard

definition of consumerism

Dear one–
if you only knew of the great treasure within you,
you would not let yourself be swayed by the fool’s gold
that flashes before your eyes.

Stop looking with your body’s eyes.
Let them close and look within.
An eye will open in your chest, in your mind,
and now you will see.

You will see that all you were searching for your whole life
is right where you are.
All that you were wanting
is right where you are.
All of the peace, all of the joy, the fulfillment–
right where you are.

Don’t waste another movement of your beautiful body,
another breath from your exquisite lungs,
another thought from your deeply intelligent mind.

Don’t waste one more drop of your precious soul essence
reaching for something that can be bought or sold.

All that you are wanting is here, now.
You don’t believe me?
Just close your eyes, and see.

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Anyone who ever tries to sell anything to anybody else is counting on somebody feeling that they:

1)Don’t have enough of x, y, and z
2)Aren’t enough of a person as they are
3)Can’t be truly happy without the thing that is being sold.

It’s staggering to think about the vast quantities of money and time that are spent daily on marketing, researching the psychology behind consumerism, figuring out the perfect way to package things, devising strategies for presenting products in such a way that we end up feeling like we can’t live without that thing that is being advertised.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am GRATEFUL to have so many choices about what I can buy, sell, and enjoy in our relatively wealthy culture.  I appreciate the variety of things that I can experience in our sensual world, and many of them come to me because they have been advertised in some way.  I am not about to suggest an ascetic way of life;  I’d personally be a pretty sad gal if someone told me, “And now you have to give up every one of your possessions, because you are no longer allowed to own anything.”  In addition, I will not be encouraging you to never again watch another commercial in your life; that would make me a hypocrite. There are some entertaining commercials out there, and I for one enjoy watching them from time to time.  But I am asking if we can take a good look at our wants and needs and make educated decisions on what we allow into our lives.  I am wondering if we could perhaps become more conscious of the way the advertising industry works, and how susceptible we can be when we aren’t aware of its influence.

I don’t want to lead you to believe here that I am not influenced by the advertising industry; I’d be lying if I told you I was in any way immune to all the flashy pictures, colors, smells, and sounds that abound in our modern day existence.  I get emails from the make up store Sephora on a regular basis, and those photos really make me want to own that certain mascara, that certain lipstick, that eyeliner, that eyeshadow–and I hardly ever wear make up!  I’m telling you, if it happens once a week, that’s a lot.  So why would I want to spend money on something that I would rarely ever use?  Plus I have a ton of makeup already…but there it is, the power of marketing–it takes just one really well-composed, nicely lit photo, and my mind becomes obsessed with the desire to own yet another thing.

In our fast-paced, technologically-advanced world, we can’t go anywhere without our senses being assaulted by advertising of one form or another.  We see many products advertised on TV:  shoes, beer, restaurants, fabric softener, cleaning products, medication, cable TV, clothes, insurance, electronics; how about the bigger products–like cars, vacations?  The commercials are strategically sprinkled in certain places as “breaks” from the television programs we watch; sometimes I might see the same commercial played three times in fewer than fifteen minutes.

Advertisements are so widespread, so common, that many of us don’t even notice them, much less understand the effects that they have on our psyches.  But somewhere we’re left feeling like we can’t be happy until we acquire a few of those products.  When we can’t afford the things being sold yet we desire them deeply nonetheless, we can quickly feel resentful, bitter, depressed, broken.  Yet we continue to watch those flashy commercials.  We might run out and buy that bar of soap, that razor, that shave cream and that brand of vodka, but the novelty eventually wears off–we discover that those products won’t somehow teleport us to an amazing dance club VIP lounge with babes fawning all over us–and we look to the next thing to purchase, believing that this time, we might be happy.

And we know the effects that our mass consumerism is having on the environment:  the pollution caused by the factories needed to manufacture the products we buy, the consumption of fossil fuels used to transport the products all over the globe.  We know that the planet simply cannot sustain this way of living for much longer.  Yet many of us continue to buy, unconsciously believing that our purchases will somehow save us from our deep-seated feelings of inadequacy.  Isn’t that just sad?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just be content where we are, today, with what we have?  I’m not talking about apathy.  I’m not suggesting that you give up on your projects and aspirations.  But I am suggesting that you take a good look at what it is you think you want, what it is the mind tells you you need today to finally be happy, and then choose your acquisitions mindfully, based on clear awareness of why each acquisition is made.  You might discover that you really don’t need many of the things you thought you needed, many of the things you thought you wanted.

How can we counter the drive to possess more?  How can we awaken the feeling of having enough inside of ourselves, our lives, our world?  We can cultivate contentment.  Contentment brings the freedom to immerse oneself in the totality of this moment.  Contentment opens up our hearts and minds to what is truly important.

And how do we cultivate contentment?  It is the natural result of simplifying daily life, and enjoying what it is we have.  From this place of enjoyment, of appreciation, an unshakeable feeling of wholeness emerges from deep within. There comes the realization that the things we buy can enhance our experiences, but they never have the power to complete us–we are already complete.  We might forget about our inherent wholeness from time to time, but it is always there, nonetheless.  From the contentment we have cultivated, we can reclaim the attention we were sending toward amassing more possessions, and have the clarity to see what it is we have in the here and now.

Sunsets are free.  Breathing is free.  A hug is free.  A smile is free.  Birdsong, sunshine, wind, rain, wildflowers, heartbeats–all free.  What would happen if we noticed who we are, what we already have, and decide to let it all be enough?

I choose today to look around me and appreciate what I have.  I choose today to simplify, so that I can pierce through the illusion of need and see what is truly necessary.  I choose to be conscious of the advertisements that I allow into my mental space, and to develop the discernment required to distinguish between idle fancy and authentic need.

I choose today to let my life be enough as it is.