Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.
Sometimes to really understand something and to have it positively affect your life first it has to punch you square in the face. My lovely wife showed me some research the other day that really made me start thinking about my habits and how my choices really do affect the rest of the world. The statistics are here, please go check them out real quick, I’ll wait…
Yeah, that was my reaction too, pretty shocking huh? I wanted to explore today how we can be more conscious of our consumption on all levels and how making more informed and mindful choices can have a huge impact in the world. Whether you come from America or some other part of the world we can all do better in our consumption habits. Being aware of how our existence progresses in relation to every other human being can help guide us as we honor the interconnectedness of the human race and live life outside our own boxes.
The greatest gift in life is the ability to improve constantly and to strive for a more meaningful and centered existence while growing through relentless learning. That is what we are doing here, we are seeking knowledge. There is an epidemic in the world that is based on the fact that more things is equal to a better life or that the goal of life should be to do whatever is needed to gain more possessions. This is a universal principle that exists in many cultures across the world. This is materialism and it is the scorn of the true self. The worship of material things. The never-ending pursuit of more. This is what causes the outrageous figures you see in the research above. We are a world of over-consumers on all levels and our habits are affecting our planet and each other in irreversible ways.
Consumption happens on many levels. Consuming of food, natural resources, water, energy, etc but I want to focus on the consumption of goods or the cultural practice of possessing more things than we need. Look around your house and I bet you will find a multitude of things you rarely, if ever, use. I’m sure there are some unneeded items, things you bought because you could or because you felt like you should. I know I have those things in my house. Even though we have a very small home there are still things we have that add little to no value to our life but that we purchased at one point or another. We all do it. We all feel the pressure to get more, to buy more, to have more. The beauty of living Unboxed is that it doesn’t have to continue. We can change our habits now.
At some point in our development into adults and our navigation through the social gauntlet to maturity we learned that things are what make us happy and are the indicators of a successful and content life. We lose some valueable things and gain some detrimental things. We carry that understanding into adulthood and end up basing our very existence on the getting, having, using, and owning of things. I challenge that idea and say that more things is often equal to a lower quality of life. Clutter breeds disorder and throws our being into a state of clouded progression. Continuing to function in a state of disconnectedness does not allow us to really tap into what it means to be alive or to appreciate the immense beauty in our world. We are so focused on populating the empty spaces in our hearts with things we forget to listen to our passions. This leads us to prioritize the wrong things and lead an untrue life.
Life should be measured by the quality of experiences and the impact we have on others and not by the perceived value of our possessions. We should be judged for our actions and our contribution to the betterment of the world and not by the size of our house or the cost of our car. Materialism is the mother of over-consumption which is killing our world. To save it we must alter our mindset and leave materialism behind.
To find balance in life we must find balance in our possessions. Indulging in something that makes you happy is not a bad thing, but like most all things it is best done in moderation. Having things is not the problem; it is making those things the defining factors in your life and the marker by which we measure success that is the detriment to our world. The value we place on things is the function by which our impact on the world is measured. By taking the value away from material possessions we can free ourselves from them and begin to alter our impact toward a life that matters. When the value of things is diminished and replaced by the power of experience we move from a self-centered life to a outward-focused being. We all must take an unbiased look at our habits of consumption and find the areas we can do better.
The epidemic of consumption and the plague of materialism will not discriminate and finds it’s way into all our lives. In the coming weeks I am going to be putting out a challenge, an activity that my wife and I are going to do and that I hope you will all do as well. The goal of this challenge will be to look critically at the things we have in our lives and if what we think is a necessity really is such. By the end of it my hope is that I will have a clearer picture of what is truly needed and what is simply clutter. In addition learning from this exercise how my habits contribute to my own materialism will allow me to grow in my understanding and to reshape my future decisions. I am putting the finishing touches on the parameters of the exercise and will publish it when it is ready. I hope you will join me in taking stock of the material possessions in my life.
Whether you choose to ignore it or not the fact remains that the resources on our planet are not infinite. They will run out at some point and will be gone forever. It is our responsibility as inhabitants of this amazing planet to do whatever we can to alter that course. Let us lead by example and first take the steps to bring our own lives in line with a conscious state of being and show others that it can be done. Before we point fingers at other people, countries, or cultures let us point the finger back at ourselves. Let us live each day with the knowledge that even a seemingly insignificant choice can ripple through the world and either harm or help the world we live in. Let’s make the choice to help in our own small way.
Clutter photo: Sean
Cash photo: 401K 2012
Trash photo: Calamity Meg
Enlightenment phot: vladLitvak