By Erica Sofrina, author of Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World.
Last week I explored our Addiction to Stuff and why Americans became such huge consumers. In part 2 of my series, I look at 7 things you can do now to change this cycle and live your life more in alignment with your commitment to leave a lighter footprint.
Aside from the fact that our addiction to consuming is threatening the extinction of our planet, it is also personally exhausting to maintain mountains of stuff. It drains your life energy. (See Anatomy of Clutter) . It is an endless cycle of spending and consuming and dumping to make room for more stuff so you can do it all over again.
If you would like to extricate yourself from this lifestyle but are stumped about how to do so, here are steps that you can do now to start to curb your own addiction to stuff, lighten your footprint on the planet, and lighten your own load.
7 Steps to Curb our Addiction to Stuff
1. Practice Awareness : We need to become aware of the brainwashing that takes place in our lives and not buy into the lie that consuming will bring happiness.
The average person is exposed to 3,000 commercials and/or ads per day all designed to send the message that you are not O.K. unless you have the latest and greatest stuff. So limit your exposure to commercial television and radio, and especially limit your children’s exposure. Support public broadcasting stations, and if you must watch commercial television, use the mute button during commercials.
2. Keep the things you have for longer and buy what you do need used: Ask your self if you really need a new car, or the latest technological gizmo? It is the small decisions we make moment by moment that change a habit. When you absolutely need something, buy it used. Due to the over abundance of stuff in our society, you can find everything you need either on line or at previously owned stores.
3. Do your research and only buy items that have been proven to last: We have a plethora of information available to us, so make use of it and do your homework before buying.
4. Commit to the three R’s reduce, recycle and reuse: Start working towards living a Zero waste lifestyle. (See my article on creating a Zero Waste Home) Look into downsizing your living space and reducing the amount of things you own. ( See my article on Downsizing your Living Space)
5. Get clear about what is truly important to you and do this instead of shopping: Shopping is filling a need. It often provides a distraction from having to look at what is really making us unfulfilled. Instead of going to the mall, take an afternoon off and go somewhere in nature that inspires you. Take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass or meditate on a tree. Being in nature will connect you back to yourself, fulfilling your deeper need to feel connected to something larger. As we do more of this our inner voice has a chance to be heard and we receive the answers we are seeking. The challenge now is to follow what your gut is telling you to move towards greater fulfillment in your life. Make it a game and spend a day doing things that don’t cost money. Get creative and find out all of the free things that are available in your community. (Find some good ideas in Things to do if Single)
6. Spend quality time just being rather than doing: It will begin to set up a new pattern that says I am valuable and important and my identity is not defined by the stuff I buy. You may want to look into a meditation or yoga practice. Just spending 20 minutes twice a day stilling the mind can be hugely beneficial in changing your perceptions about what is truly important in your life.
7. Surround yourselves with friends of like mind: If your friends and family are caught up in consumerism, it will be harder to extricate yourself from this lifestyle.
Volunteer and get involved in more communities like Care2 where so many people are living their lives in alignment with their deeper values. We may not be able to chose our family, but we can choose our friends. True friends will empower rather than dis-empower you. They will inspire you to live your ideals by their example.
When you are caught up in the seduction of buying something ask yourself – ‘Is this thing I am buying something that is in alignment with my highest ideals to support sustainability on the planet’? Consumerism is an addiction, and like any addiction we overcome it one decision at a time.
Take action- become informed! Watch this powerful YouTube video called The Story of Stuff. A must-see for anyone interested in this subject.
Please share with us your own solutions and ideas to stop consumerism. What kinds of things do you do that are fun, free and fulfilling?