Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thoughts on a Society Fueled by Consumerism. Deciding When Enough is Enough

~ In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy ~ Ivan Illich

In 1998 I went out and bought my first cell phone. There was nothing fancy about it and I recall not being overly thrilled about the idea. I just concluded that it would be a good idea in case of an emergency. Imagine that, a cell for emergency purposes only. Fast forward 13 years later as thousands across the country are racing to stores to purchase the new iPhone, and more than half of the recipients are more than likely under the age of 18. I can't say entirely that I blame society for their endless need for bigger and better, and I also can't say the blame falls completely on the companies that produce the bigger and better. I believe they go hand in hand, and 13 years later society....well society just expects more. The question is where does it end?

Over the last few years we have all witnessed the United State's falling dollar and the international debt that seems to be insurmountable. Suddenly Americans are faced with foreclosure, lay offs and thoughts of financial insecurity. They are beginning to rethink their financial plans when it comes to home ownership and retirement plans. They have begun on some level to learn to live more simply and doing what they can to adopt a new way of thinking in terms of finances. Naturally the spending habits of an individual will always vary based on income and upbringing but whether you have the means to purchase the bigger and better is it really necessary?

As a consumer we have so many choices when it comes to where you shop, where to eat, what car to buy. With so many choices its no wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed in our decision making. One of the steps we can take as consumers is to really identify with what we need as opposed to what we want. To ask ourselves the question of whether or not it is necessary. We also have to dig a little deeper. Eventually our clothes will begin to wear, our vehicles will become older and will need to be replaced. However by realizing you are not defined by what you own you will tend to be a bit more selective with your purchases. What you do with what you have determines your worth. There is always a rush with a new purchase that you thought you just had to have. Within a week you are satisfied and within a one month you are over it. Alas you move on to the next thing and the process repeats itself. The lesson learned is that things will never create a true happiness. They in essence create a false sense of what real happiness is.

Life is short. The idea isn't to keep running in a race against society or yourself to have the best, there will be no finish line. The idea is to spend it on the moments. Take in the world around you everyday and be consumed by the little things in life that are filled with true happiness. The intangible good are the things that fill up your insides with enough satisfaction to feel that you have enough.  Right now look around at everything you have and ask yourself is it enough? I can't preach to you that over consumption can manifest itself into a monster that will eventually leave you unfilled. I can only ask that next time you are looking to purchase the bigger and better take a moment to look around and ask yourself is it necessary? Contentment is natural wealth; luxury, artificial poverty ~ Socrates

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