“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
It has only been a year since I came to the realization that we are being pushed towards materialism for monetary gain by corporations, not for our own happiness. I mean, I have always known this in my gut, but I was in denial that I was party to the racket for a long time.
Even now that I am mindful of it, it’s hard to escape the trap of materialism. My family and I are constantly on a journey to find happiness in other ways than buying stuff online or paying money for “things”.
It is possible to escape materialism to an extent. Here’s my short guide to creating a life free of materialism. It’s a work in progress!
My family is very lucky. We own a cabin in the woods, far away from society. We live there for a couple of months out of the year, and visit often beyond that. Every time we go, we escape materialism (unless you count owning the cabin…but I’m not going there in this post!). Upon returning to “real life”, I try to bring my lessons learned from my escape back with me.
Here are my suggestions to escape materialism:
- Minimize TV time. What is the added value of hours of TV each day? If you have some shows that you absolutely adore, go ahead and watch them, but when the commercials come on, go do something else. Or use Tivo to watch TV (but that costs money). You can also give up cable entirely and save a ton of money AND time.
- Be wary of news outlets. Even the news is guided to driving traffic to the advertising. So when you’re watching or reading news, you’re really being sucked in to advertising. I don’t watch the news, and I barely read it. Try it for one week and let me know what you have missed out on.
- Careful with net surfing. I love reading blogs so much. But even blogs advertise (this one included!). Limit your time on the internet, and be mindful of the fact that advertising is all over the place!
- Give up magazines. I cancelled all of my subscriptions when I realized that there was just as much advertising as there was good articles. Find the niche you are interested in and try books instead.
- Don’t go to the mall. If you go to the mall to hang out, stop! Go to the park instead. The mall sucks us into buying stuff, and it does a damn good job of it, if we aren’t careful.
- Use a 30-day list. I started this recently. If there is something that you really want, write it in a journal and even create a separate savings account for the item. If after 30 days you still want it…well, maybe you need it after all.
- Declutter. Decluttering has made my family realize how useless all our consumer shopping is. We don’t need stuff! When you start to declutter, you are far less likely to buy more stuff. If you do buy something, get rid of 2 things.
- Buy used. If you really must buy something, try finding it used instead of new. I never thought I would do this, but I have actually purchased something from a thrift shop and a garage sale!
Some great blogs to keep you in the “anti-materialism zone”: