The Consumption Problem

Starting last Sunday, I made the decision to stop buying new clothes, accessories and makeup.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about contentment. What does it mean to be content? How does one cultivate contentment? Contentment is the state of being satisfied. In other words, it means being fulfilled and at peace with things as they are.

Several weeks ago, I would have called myself a relatively content person. And yet, upon further reflection, it seems that I am an extremely discontent person. I spend a lot of energy and time wanting and pursuing more.

Let’s begin with examining my thought process. As I sit here in Starbucks (a mecca of consumption), my inner dialogue goes a little something like this, “Mmmm…this caramel macchiato is delicious…I can’t wait to have one again…that girl over there has amazing shoes…I wonder where she bought them…geez, this computer is getting slow…it’s taking way too long to load an eighth tab in the web browser…maybe I should start thinking about what kind of new laptop to get after this one dies…I mean, an Apple, obviously…but which one…I should ask that friend about how she likes her iPad…Apple says the iPad is magical and revolutionary…come to think about it, I really could use more magic and revolutionizing in my life…” And so on and so forth.

I watch and kind of believe commercials that tell me I need the newest, shiniest bit of technology. I notice other people’s clothes and things, and have the sudden urge to go shopping. I keep up with daily deal sites, not wanting to miss out on the next great discount. I fantasize about a life with more time, a nicer kitchen, more money, less belly fat, a different car, new sunglasses, and someone else’s confidence.

It is a rare moment that I am perfectly at peace with what I have (and don’t have). And yet, I want to believe that I have enough. I want to be satisfied, and teach that value to my child. I want to remember the fact that I am among the wealthiest 2% in the world, and that many people don’t have enough to eat. I want to consume less, and give more. I want to spend less time thinking about stuff, and spend more time caring for others.

Unto that end, I am putting an indefinite hold on buying new clothes, accessories and makeup. I have more than enough to fill my closet and dresser, and can stand to whittle down rather than accumulate more. Buying new clothes has other negative affects on me. I constantly concern myself with keeping up with current fashion, compare myself with others, and find that shopping begets more shopping. My hope is that cutting out clothing purchases will be a small but meaningful step toward a more content me.

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