Mindless to Meaningful

Are you pursuing a more fulfilling life? Living a meaningful life requires a complete paradigm shift. It takes effort to change our thinking and behavior from a place of mindless to a place of meaningfulness. Start is by evaluating your part in mindless consumerism and stop buying the things you simply don’t need. Although everyone knows that more “stuff” can’t make you happy, we often act as if it can.

We work more hours to earn more income, but we are saving less. Personal debt has jumped over the previous thirty years. Consumers are guilted into thinking that buying more can even patriotic.

However, the average consumer packs several credit cards and is spending more than ever.  There are as many TVs per home as there are people. Home sizes have doubled, and consumer debt has risen to 35% or more of a household income. We are spending tomorrow’s earnings paying off what we spent yesterday. No one intentionally sets out to spend more than they make. However, when we are on autopilot, we mindlessly make meaningless purchases.

We overspend and over consume in moments of stress (causing even more stress). We buckle under the pressure to impress. Media fans the embers of envy. Before we know it, we are less content, less generous and certainly less financially free. Really consider your spending habits and make an effort to buy with thoughtful intention.

Where are you spending your time, money and energy? Are you spending it where or with whom you value most? Has your “stuff” become a burden? Take time to honestly assess everything: your income, your mortgage, your car payments, your spending habits, and your daily pursuits. Are you happy? Or is there more you want?

You don’t have to keep up. Just because your siblings, coworkers, and friends are chasing a certain style of life does not mean you need to. They are chasing a rabbit of instant gratification down a rabbit hole of debt. Chasing after them will only land you into more debt as well.

Understand your triggers. What stores prompt unnecessary purchases? What hole are you trying to fill? What products, addictions, or sales prompt automatic responses? Are there specific emotions (sadness or loneliness) that trigger mindless consumption? Half of the battle is being able to identify, recognize, and understand your triggers. My trigger was back-to-school supplies. It was my way of hanging on to my child’s youth even after she graduated from school!

Take stock of what motivates you. Advertisers manipulate us by appealing to our desires in subtle ways. Advertisements don’t care about relaying facts about a product. Instead, they appeal to our sense of adventure, reputation, happiness, fulfillment, and sex appeal. What are advertisers stirring up in you, that provokes you to buy things you don’t really need (or even want, for that matter)?

Be present and thoughtful in your purchases. You are more than a consumer; you are also a contributor. Make meaningful purchases that move you towards effectively accomplishing your goals. Don’t get distracted. Just because you can buy something doesn’t always mean you should.

Consider the hidden costs of each purchase. How much will our purchase require of our time, energy, and focus (cleaning, organizing, maintaining, repairing)? Will it invite debt, worry or stress? What is the tradeoff regarding hours needed to work to purchase that item?

If you are game, consider a no-shopping challenge. You can set the terms. How about 30 days without any consumer purchases or try 60 days without buying any new clothes. Set a specific challenge based on your needs. Break the cycle of wasteful spending and set some goals you want to achieve, whether it is digging out of debt or saving for a fabulous vacation.

Give away the things you don’t need or use. Bless someone else with a timely, considerate regifting. Someone else may need that second set of dishes you have been storing in the attic. Maybe the church could use your other gravy boat. Could the neighbor use your second hedge trimmer?

Lastly, when moving from mindless to meaningful, do more of what makes you happy. It’s not your “stuff” that makes you happy. Once our basic needs are met, the happiness found in consuming is brief at best. Find what brings you the most joy and do more of that. I find happiness in my faith, family, friends, and contributing where I can. When you move from mindless to meaningful, you’ll find your life to be rich and fulfilling. Take responsibility for your excess consumerism and make an effort to use the power of thoughtful purchasing to make what you do buy more meaningful.

If you have already transitioned to making more meaningful decisions with your purchasing power, how has it changed your life? Have you cut back on your consumption? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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