I am sure it comes as no surprise that there seems to be some problem with the economy today. However this is not necessarily my view, but the general view shared out there.
Apparently, companies are not making enough sales and profits.
Let us move now to watching television, do you notice how enticing every commercial is? They make sure we feel, that we are somehow not “good enough”, “not quite complete” or “satisfied” unless we have a certain product.
Now let us move into your own life. How many times do you hear yourself thinking or saying that there is not enough time, money, happiness, peace, etc, etc…
So what do the three events I described above have to do with each other? The chord that binds them, is that no matter where we look in life today, we live in a society that is obsessed with “more”.
And while this does not have to be a “bad” thing, the way most people use it today leaves their spirits empty, restless and incomplete. So let us move forward and examine a little closer this obsession of ours with “more”.
The Political Scale
I am currently reading a book called “Life, Money & Illusion” by Mike Nickerson, that has let’s just say, opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at what is REALLY going on with the whole issue of the economy. And although I am only into the early parts of the book, of which I will do a full review here when I am done, it has already been instrumental in helping me understand the “real problem” with why we are seeing the changes we are today, where the economy is concerned.
Since the 1950′s North Americans were constantly fed the ideas that “we need to buy more“. A good running country has to have a good economy and it is up to us to make sure we see that happen. I am sure many people would agree that ever since then, for the most part, the human being was seen as nothing more than a consumer of goods.
From a political perspective, the message has been steady for decades now – a good economy is one that is growing. Hence we need growth to be functional, and that growth is just another way of saying “we need more products, more sales, more profits.”
And let us give them credit, for they have done a good job at making sure we continue in that very trend. Aside from very clever marketing, most items today have a very short lifespan deliberately to ensure a quick turnover rate.
But can we stop for a moment and ask ourselves, “how far are we willing to grow?” or better yet “ how much can we actually afford to grow?” The planet we live on is a finite space with finite resources, and with the paradigms that the political and consumer leaders keep feeding us, somehow that critical detail is not realistically being considered.
It is hence time we break out of the brainwashing and start thinking for ourselves – will the idea of more actually bring about a healthy economy? Will it bring us sustainable living? And most importantly, will it make us happy?
I know many people cannot see it any other way and are currently depressed and wrapped up in what is happening with the global economy. I know if that is you, you may not be too happy with me, for saying what I am going to say in this article. But the change in the economy is not the consumer’s problem – believe me. The reason it is collapsing as it is, is because it is not serving the greater good. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, while our environment and health crumble under all of it. Justice has been thrown out the window, and a select few controlling personalities are dictating how things ought to be for all.
Maybe you are ready to see things a new way, maybe you are not – but believe me when I say that our obsession with more growth where the economy is concerned, is one of the biggest illusions we as a human race have allowed ourselves to live with up to this time. The good news is, the bubble is finally bursting.
And without being insensitive to those of you who may be finding yourself in some kind of a “hardship” now, major change is usually followed by discomfort, but know that if you do not resist that change you will come out of it a stronger and a more complete person. It is all about how we choose to adapt to our new environments.
The Material Scale
Our obsession with more cannot be any more obvious than it is when it comes to shopping. The commercials we see on television and most popular media entice us continually with material goods and services. We constantly want and feel like we need more. More clothes, more rooms, more furniture, more toys, more knick knacks, more you name it.
It is so easy to see our obsession with more every weekend while visiting major department stores or shopping centers. People are constantly shopping. Be it a nice weekend, a rainy weekend and never mind a holiday weekend, the plazas are full of cars and people are shopping.
But do we ever stop and ask ourselves why? While there is nothing wrong with appreciating what we have manifested in the physical form, many of us have established a strong sense of self based on what and how much items we have. This is the real issue here. And some have just made shopping nothing more than a hobby.
Why though, have we come to use shopping as a crutch for pseudo-happiness? Why has shopping substituted family time, exercise time, meditation time, alone time?
I don’t think this message can be said any better than it is by Annie Leonard in her video “The Story of Stuff”. It is a free, 20 minute, phenomenal video that EVERYONE should see to really come to terms with how our life revolves around material goods and why. I wrote about it last year here.
Most of us have more clothes than we know what to do with, more make-up, more ties, more toys, more gadgets, tools, and things we will never even have a chance to use fully. And it doesn’t stop there. So many of us even use the obsessive more idea when it comes to basic things like shampoos and groceries. How many people regularly throw away food that has gone “bad” in their fridge?
Where does this obsession with more really come from? And why are so many of us slaves, yes literally slaves to it?
Could it be that we have forgotten how perfect and complete we are as beings, who do not need to judge their self worth or equate their identity with material goods?
At this rate of living, we have to understand that it is no surprise that as consumerism grew since the 1950′s, that was also the mark where our personal happiness began to decline. Today we have “more” stuff and are less happy than we were 60 years ago.
The Personal Scale
On a personal scale, our obsession with more does not end with material goods. Today we obsess about more time, more money, more freedom, more fun, more vacations, etc.
Out of these I am sure most of us can at least relate to the “more money” and “more time” ideas.
Our obsession with more money is perhaps the most violent one. I am not talking here about people who are scraping by making a living just to survive wanting more money, but about those of us with the big houses, cars, clothes, etc., who are never satisfied and always looking for more. Some people are just obsessed with the idea of having more money, not even to buy anything, but for the sake of more money period. Is it possible that there is a connection there to our egos, to having a sense of power, prestige, security, etc?
But do we ever stop and ask ourselves, “when would it be enough?” Do any of us really have a set point we would be happy with? Be cautious before you answer that, because many a person who came into “a lot” of money, quickly learned that they too still needed “more”.
And how about time? I recently read a post from a guest author on the UrbanMonk.net site called “How To Stop Fearing Time” that drives the point about the idea of “more time” from another angle. If we are really honest with ourselves, it is not that we don’t have enough time in our lives, it is all about what we CHOOSE to do with it (i.e. how we choose to spend it).
But if we can just stop for a moment and consider this obsessive need for more time and more money. Is it not all so relative? If I perhaps stopped doing meaningless tasks in my life and became more conscious of how I spend my time, would I immediately not have “more” of it? And if I became more conscious about how and what I spend money on, would I not automatically feel richer?
And the biggest thing to consider here is “our lifestyles”. So many of us, deliberately put ourselves in certain lifestyles that we THINK are going to make us happy and then spend time pining away for the “more time and more money” that we need to maintain them.
In the end this leaves us on a never ending training wheel, going around and around in circles and never really getting anywhere, but always thinking that there is a “there” that we need to get to.
So here comes the hardest part to accept – our obsession with more is self-created. At any point in time, you have the choice to change how you spend your time, how you spend your money and how you view life.
Indulging in the obsession with more is not making us any happier, any more fulfilled, at peace or enlightened. If it was, I would not be writing this article. It is blinding us from seeing the bigger picture of life. It is stunting our growth and leaving us stuck in a rut.
At the end of the day there is nothing more that any of us really need. We are whole, complete and perfect – but we have to go within to see and appreciate that, and as long as we are wrapped up in “more”, we are not present to those gifts that we already possess.
As I mentioned earlier, there is nothing wrong with appreciating material goods, or even with being abundant financially, that is not at all what this is about. It is simply that, too many of us are stuck in a vicious cycle of never being settled or satisfied, and judging ourselves and others based on material goods.
The bottom line is that if we and our future generations want to continue to enjoy this planet for years to come, and even more so if we want to enjoy ourselves and our lives here and now, then all I invite us to consider is – living a more sustainable, deeper and simpler way of life. We already have everything we need, it just depends on how we choose to see it.