By Erica Sofrina, Author of Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World.
In part 4 of my series on consumerism (what it is doing to our planet, how we became addicts, and how we can change this destructive habit), I came up with a list of 12 free, fun and fulfilling things you can do instead of shop.
Shopping is filling a need and often provides a distraction from having to look at what is really making us unfulfilled. Once you get clear about what is truly important to you, you need to make a conscious choice to make more time doing the things that feed you, and less for those that ultimately bring your energy down.
Here is how to start:
- Go somewhere that is quiet, preferably in nature. Bring a pen and journal. Sit, relax and concentrate on breathing in and out slowly, letting the mind chatter fade.
- Meditate on the question: What are the things that give my life meaning? You may recall things you don’t do anymore that used to bring you great joy. Maybe it was music, or art, or dancing or reading poetry or getting out in nature, or just laughing and/or playing more.
- Make a list of these starting with the things that make your heart sing the most. Document how these activities made you feel.
- Make a plan to do activities that cost little or no money (see ideas below) that include the items on your list. Commit to doing something on the list once a week or, at the least once a month.
The goal is to create a life that incorporates much more of the things that truly feed you and much less of the things that are not in alignment with what you really care about. Once you do this, your life becomes richer and fuller and the boredom that caused you to shop in the first place lifts. We feel better about ourselves because we aren’t perpetuating the consumerism that we know is killing our planet. We start to make conscious choices about our lives and feel like we are now contributing to the solution rather than the problem.
Here are 12 Ideas you can do that will be fun, fulfilling and low cost and/or free, to start you on your journey!
1. Get the main local newspaper or go online and find out what free activities are listed in your area. You will be surprised how much you can do spending little or no money. I found listings for art in the park, free operas and musicals, crystal and flower shows, tours of organic goat farms, walking tours and so much more. Plan an outing and make it a game to see what you can do without spending any money.
2. Check out the local library and spend a few hours just reading and browsing. How long has it been since you spent time in a Library? Get a Library card and indulge your sense of exploration. There are wonderful and interesting documentaries and movies, books, DVD’s and CD’s you can listen to or watch there, or check them out for later. They also often sponsor free lectures. The best kept secret around!
3. Find the child in you again! Here are two ideas from my favorite uncle Don (age 85 ) who still has the most fun of anyone I know!
- Invest in an inexpensive jumbo bubble blower and go to the park, take a picnic and blow enormous bubbles! You can make them out of a hula hoop using a rubber pool for the bubble mixture.Recipe: one part regular dish detergent to 10 parts water. Or find out how to make one on You Tube. Then check out this amazing and magical video of blowing monster bubbles on the beach. You will be sure to attract a ton of fun!
- Make a small investment in an inexpensive croquet set, (find used on Craig’s list) and play ‘Nighttime Croquet” with illuminated balls and wickets. He explains : you can buy your lighted bocce balls (led lights blinking) at Spillsbury on line store, and use them as croquet balls, then make sure to scotch tape neon necklaces to your wickets so that your players know where the targets are. Neon necklaces (around 35 cents each) can be bought at any dime store or wholesale at Supreme Glow on line store.….Thank you uncle Don!
4. Invite your friends to a pot-luck picnic and have a theme dish, a’la Iron Chef. Choose one special ingredient such as cranberries or lemons and challenge everyone to make a dish using this ingredient.
5. Join a museum and enjoy the multitude of free events for members. The annual fee for many is minimal, maybe $60 tops. At San Francisco’s De Young Museum members get in free to every exhibit, the special opening parties and weekly events. The last one I went to was a masquerade event where members got in free, were treated to two free cocktails, a performance by opera singers with roaming Cirque du Soleil type performers and mask making.
6. Join organizations of like mind. If you love hiking, join the Sierra Club. They have weekend hikes, events and you will be meeting people who value the same things that you do, enriching your circle of friends.
Next: 6 More Free & Fulfilling Activities!