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Consumerism

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The First Noble Truth in Buddhism states that there is suffering, which is something most people can instinctively understand, but it’s the Second Noble Truth that points out the reasons we suffer…our unquenchable cravings, and our attachments to them. 

 

With the holidays rapidly approaching, Americans will once again spend money, and consume on a massive scale.  We will search for that perfect gift to make our loved ones happy, and most of us will spend more money than we have in attempts to do so.  Buddhism asks us to see things as they really are and be brutally honest with ourselves, so in that spirit of self-examination, I ask you…did any of the stuff you received actually make you happier?

 

For me, when I look back on previous holidays, it hasn’t been the presents that have brought me happiness.  It’s been the time I get to spend with my family, it’s how I get to put the world on pause for a morning while I get to see my children play, how I get to enjoy a cup of coffee in my bathrobe without rushing to get somewhere,

 

Do you even remember your presents from two years ago? No one wants you to go into debt for them, especially your loved ones. The Zen garden only contains a few large rocks to be complete.  The collection of stuff in your life will not bring you any lasting happiness.  It amazes me that people will be injured or even trampled to death by people looking for the cheapest way to buy more stuff, the day after we connect to the things we are truly thankful for.

 

I recently bought a new car because I was in desperate need of one.  I researched, found out what payments I could afford, and ended up buying the cheapest car on the market.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my new car, but within a month or so, the excitement of having a new car had worn off and it was just another thing.  What’s worse is it’s a thing with about another 60 payments left on it.

 

I’ll say it again…no one wants you to go into debt over them.  Most of us have way more than we need.  We fill our homes to the brim with stuff and then when we run out of space, we buy storage units to fill.  It’s a little bit insane.  Have you ever received a gift and thought to yourself ‘this is a super cool new thing, but where am I going to put it?’

 

Now, I’m not going to ask any of you to stop being consumers, but what I will ask you to do is to be mindful in your consumerism.  Why are you buying this?  Is it going to do for you the things you’re hoping it will do?  Is there a better way to show your love and appreciation for the person I’m buying this for?  Do you actually need this?  Could your money be better spent in another way?  Is there another way for you to give that doesn’t involve your credit card?

 

The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for some people.  If you’re someone who struggles around the holidays, might I suggest three things that may help you enjoy the time more, and relieve some stress at the same time

1.       Do less.

2.       Listen more.

3.       Be truly present with those around you.

 

Give it a try and see what happens.  Your credit card will thank you for it. 

May all beings be free from financial slavery.

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