Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mindfulness As a Weapon Against Consumerism.

"The more you have, the more you are occupied.
The less you have, the more free you are."
Henry David Thoreau

This is the first of a 5 point essay on Consumerism and Mindfulness. How practicing mindfulness in our daily lives can ease the pressures and negative consequences of run-away and compulsive consumerism so evident in today's society.

Mindfulness is a calm serene state of mind that we strive to attain- if, for only moments throughout our busy days. Slowly, as we become more skilled, we build upon those moments to increase their time so that we are living more and more in the present moment without conflicting feelings such as fear, anticipation, regret, or anxiety.
Today, it is a struggle to keep our needs and wants simple.  We need to attain peace of mind, happiness and fulfillment on our terms, rather than being victims to a marketer's message. What car you should drive?  What holiday you should take.   What you should consider to be fun?  Everything is dictated to us by companies who need us to buy their products and services.  Companies who create an unreal story  i.e. beer commercials where everyone is slim, fit, beautiful, happy and life is a party, in order to persuade us to buy, even when we know the story to be false.

Life is not one big party, rather it is 90% part of life that is part sleeping, working, raising and educating children, managing money, dealing with disappointments and loss and generally just dealing with life on life's terms.  To encourage this state of being, we need to pay attention to the details of our lives- the general maintenance of being a human being.   After all, life is 5% sorrow, 5% joy and 90 % maintenance.

Life twists and turns with one certainty- Change.   Life forces us to accept change and adapt. Regardless of our ambition, things will likely not go as we expect them to. However, becoming mindful in our daily lives allows us to manage our attitudes and our thoughts,  to be happy with what we have rather than to be resentful and bitter for what we don't.   Acceptance of what is, and gratitude for what we have are two critical qualities in mindful living that enable us to centre ourselves.  When we are centered we create mindful actions.  When thinking mindfully, we  use insight to realize when our wants don't originate within us but are in fact a result of marketing programs aimed directly at us.  Mindful thinking help us to steer our own course and not become a follower.

A happy person is a person that is pursuing their one personal objective, their "dream" and it shouldn't be measured by the social morays of creating wealth for ourself, driving the right car and sending our children to the right schools. It should be personally satisfying and engaging and be a dream of our own making.

From this compulsive consumerism has come five new social behaviours and attitudes that plague most of the world's westernized societies: Cluttering, Diabesity, Crippling personal debt, Gambling addictions and Greed.  I will post one of these topics over the next few days, starting with the first: Cluttering.


“Out of Clutter Find Simplicity” Albert Einstein

People seem to clutter, clutter, clutter, seeking some form of happiness when in fact, they never give themselves a chance at any moments of serenity because they bury themselves in the detritus of a consumer society- CLUTTER.

Clutter seems to be a North American phenomena based upon anxiety, guilt, and change, compounded by buying into the consumer message  that happiness can be instantly achieved by purchasing their products.  We are a consumer society inundated with marketing messages.  And, they are subtle.  We don't even realize we are being given wants for things we may have never have thought of on our own... timeshares, exotic holidays, designer labels, personal coaches, gadgets, home theaters, year round tan etc. Truthfully, our needs are far fewer than our wants! However, in a  constant comparison with others, we feel we always fall short....... or so we are told. 

When we create environments that are cluttered, messy, stressful., overwhelming and/or unaffordable, we directly and dramatically affect the success of our businesses, our health and well-being, and  our relationships.  A consistent state of disarray in one's surroundings  creates a negative impact on the mind  affecting behaviour and lifestyle.  Living in a constant state of clutter impairs the minds ability to relax and function properly- it prevents us  from finding our "centre" and living in a serene and calm state.

Life coach Jim Bunch explains: it's important to get rid of all the stuff that we no longer use, want or need, because when we do, we let go of the emotional anchors that hold us back - that prevent us from moving forward with our goals and see, we're not going to have the room in our lives for what we DO want until we let go of the things we have in our lives that we DON'T want. It really is that simple.
And, what we DO want in our lives is a calm serenity brought about by living mindfully.
Living Mindfully means that we critically separate our wants from our needs.  We are thoughtful in our purchases, we practice acceptance and gratitude in our daily lives, and we live with simplicity.

Henry David Thoreau and his call to .... Simplify....Simplify.....Simplify.



Tomorrow:  Mindful Eating  as a Weapon Against Diabesity.

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