November 4, 2014

Waking Up to the Art of Simple Living.

shopping_cart consumer

From the rampant consumerism vortex to the path of simple living; many of us understand that we should go there, but how do we get there?

Do you ever go into your Amazon Account and take a gander at your Purchase History?

I did the other day and I’m not returning for a while. Why?

It irks me that Amazon won’t allow me to delete my purchase history. I am not a ‘consumer junkie’; but I was sure made to feel like one when I clicked on this link.

I don’t need to be reminded of what I’ve (even frugally) purchased through Amazon over the years.

And as for that ‘little something’ you purchased a few years ago and are now profoundly embarrassed about: Whoops! There it is like a smirking gargoyle permanently ensconced in your purchase history!

And Apple Inc is no better: you delete an app on your iPhone and where does it go? It takes up residence in your App Store’s Purchased Items – just in case you change your mind; decide to reload it and spend more money you don’t have.

Where does it end?

It doesn’t. We’re sucked into a vortex of rampant consumerism and there isn’t an escape hatch.

So if digital consumerism is a problem for you, unless you’re prepared to close out your FaceBook, Twitter, Amazon, and email accounts; ditch your Smartphone and become a wandering mendicant monk in the Himalayas, you’re just (like me) going to have to suck it up and deal!

Is there a way to mindfully navigate these consumer traps?

Yes, it’s called human agency and the art of simple living.

By human agency I mean taking ownership of who and what controls our mind, enters our stream of consciousness, informs our daily choices, and ultimately determines the core values by which we live.

We have the power to choose whether or not to be a hapless consumer junkie; or to mindfully engage in the marketplace as a discerning and thoughtful shopper—not one who goes into a store with a list of three items and leaves with seven! Or one who buys a useful and needed item on Amazon, Ebay or wherever, but then gets lured into browsing the sidebar ‘accessory’ items, or the ‘Customers who bought this item also purchased’ section.

Scream! Get out of there—now!

Don’t linger and let ‘them’ dupe you into unnecessary purchases; or play havoc with your most basic of human instincts: desire.

Because they will—and they’ll suck it dry until you’re spent, penniless, and can no longer recognize who you are.

By the art of simple living I don’t mean wholesale divestment or disengagement from a materialist lifestyle. We all, to varying degrees, live a materialist lifestyle. We have the things we think we need; we buy more of these things when we think we need them; and we have a legion of reasons to justify why we need the creature comforts we have.

My suggestion here is to (periodically) do a little moral inventory of the things we own and consider indispensable needs. Do we really need them? Do I have items in a storage unit that have been sitting there for a year or more? Do I absolutely need the iPhone 6 or am I doing just fine with the 4S?

Why does my family have four cars in the driveway when we used to get by (comfortably) with two? Why am I spending 45 minutes on a simple Amazon purchase when this should only have taken five minutes? Has gaming and gambling taken over my life?

Let’s wake up! Strip our lives of the addictive consumer crap and debris that is piling up at our doors—the doors to our homes and the doors to our human dignity.

And until Amazon, Apple Inc and the like grow up and give us the option to delete our purchase histories, resist the urge to browse these links; just try to live simply so that others can simply live.


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Author: Gerard Murphy 

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Wikimedia Commons 

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