You’re sitting at the house and you’re bored. The first thing you think of is going to the store or the mall: do some shopping. Sometimes our supposed leaders tell us shopping is an act of patriotism so we’re supposed to feel good about spending money on all that stuff. But there’s more to this simple act.
When we buy those items it’s like eating empty calories. It’s like drinking a Pepsi or Coke. Ultimately, the high sugar content will make you want to consume more. In other words, shopping will never be fulfilling beyond the few seconds it takes to buy the item and the few minutes where your mind enjoys the “newness” of the item. Then it wears off. Then you buy more stuff.
More and more of us are realizing how buying material items leaves us feeling empty. Like an addict, who is as addicted to finding the next fix as much as with the fix itself, we lock ourselves into a system of make money to spend money. Heroin addicts are not only addicted to the heroin but to the types of needles they use, the type of cotton, and down to the metal container they use to cook the heroin. The entire process is a part of the addiction. The same goes for our spending habits. We are addicted to the process of acquiring money to spend money.
The result? We are trashing our planet. Now I would say I’m worried about the planet, but when she’s tired of us trashing up the environment then she’ll scratch an itch and we’ll all be wiped off the face of the earth. It’s a cycle that’s been happening for millions of years. What am I worried about? Our children and grandchildren. They’re going to suffer a tremendous amount of misery because this generation couldn’t control their spending habits, their addiction.
So what can you do? First, stop the addiction. Wake up and realize you are an addict. Like all addicts, you know the outcome is self destruction and you continue to use/spend. Addicts in recovery learn they have to replace one behavior with anther. To stop buying “stuff,” you must start getting more involved with giving back to your community. We all know we can get caught in the rat race between our friends. What if you started to give your time to help impoverished people in your community? What if the “rat race” was “who could give the most?”
Join Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and if you already have kids then take your kids with you when you volunteer. Read sites like Shareable and learn how communities are already giving, where generosity is already starting to become the norm. The more energy you put into giving to your community, the less energy you’re going to give to spending and buying more and more stuff to fill up your garage or your kids’ overfilled toy box. How many of you have gone through the toy box before Christmas to start throwing toys in the trash in preparation for the new toys coming in? Spend a holiday where each child gets one toy, and then you donate your time to a battered women’s shelter.
What do you do with that extra money you save? Spend it on experiences rather than stuff. Organize a trip to another country. Show your children how other people on the plant live. Show your children they share a planet with other people and effect other people with their spending power.
When you start to realize how buying a single toy at Wal-Mart can enslave a child on the other side of the planet, you start to look at those isles of holiday fun as isles of destruction.
Go for a walk or bike ride for pleasure, not exercise, but to enjoy the natural world. Time is our most valuable asset. When you look back on your life, are you going to remember all the “stuff” you bought, or are you going to remember the time you spent with people you love?