I’ve never been a shopper. The entire act of shopping, for anything, has never been a pleasurable activity for me.
But, I do enjoy buying things. I’ve spent the better part of my 33 years mindlessly consuming. I see the newest flashy something and I need that thing, now….
After all, society defines our self worth based on the stuff in our lives. Commercials are constantly shoulting at us to buy this thing. We need this thing. If we do not acquire it, then we’re not keeping up with the proverbial joneses and our lives are suddenly meaningless piles of dog doo.
We’re expected to mindlessly consume, and we do. Without fail, we buy more and more to improve our lives, make them easier. We are constantly searching for a purpose, happiness, contentment….
Yet, no matter how much we buy. No matter how many things we finally acquire, none of it answers life’s questions or provides us with what we were seeking for more than a fleeting moment.
I’m not perfect, and I sure as hell don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you this…
You’re not going to find happiness or meaning hidden in the bottom of your $300 designer handbag. It’s not there, I can promise you that. Instead, you will find those things by having less and by appreciating that with which you already have.
My mom always used to say “be happy with what you have, and not what you have not.” I tell my kids that alll the time and there have never been truer words.
So, if your eye is gleaming over the latest flat screen tv, or your dreaming of a brand new state-of-the-art cooktop… just stop and try this instead.
5 Easy Ways to Be Content With What You Have
1. Be mindful of what you already have
So often we don’t even realize what we have. Case in point, I bought some lightbulbs to replace a burned out bulb in one of our salt lamps the other day. I had three of those exact same bulbs sitting in my cupboard.
Take stock in what you have. I can bet that you already have something that will fulfill the purpose of what you want, what you think you need. Instead of thinking you absolutely have to have this latest and greatest smart phone… how about realizing you already have a phone that fulfills the exact same purpose the new one does. Then…
2. Be thankful
This can be so difficult, but practice gratitude. Realize that there are so many people who would love to be where you’re at and have what you have. A fantastic way to practice this is to write down, every single day, three things you’re grateful for.
Instead of thinking you have to have the newest (insert meaningless object that may bring temporary happiness to you) think of the things you already have that fulfill that purpose. Instead of thinking I need x, think I’m so thankful that I have a roof over my head, a beautiful family, and hot water.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
It is oh so easy to fall into the comparison trap. We often see others and believe that if we were more like them, or if we had what they have. Then, we would finally be happy.
Do yourself a favor don’t fall into this trap. And if you do, dig yourself right back out of it. First of all, looks can be deceiving. Just because someone appears happy or like they’ve got all their shit together doesn’t mean they do. Second, in order to be happy, you need to be you. Being fake, and acting like you’re someone you’re not is never going to be the answer.
4. Realize the cost
Let’s say you get this thing which you must have. And it momentarily gives you happiness. What did it cost you? Will the happiness last long enough to pay for the real cost?
This is about much more than an items monetary value. Think about what you have to do to gain the money. How many hours did you have to spend away from your family? How long did you have to work instead of doing something you actually enjoy doing? How much stress did it cause because it was something you couldn’t really afford? Our belongings cost a lot more than money….
5. Be patient
We live in a society obsessed with instant gratification. That thing in which you do not have can be yours right now, regardless of ability to afford it. Just slide a card or sign a few pieces of paper and it’s yours, today! Granted, you’ll pay for the object, plus interest for an often indeterminate amount of time, but it will only cost you $10 extra a month. C’mon, you must have it now, and what have you got to lose?
Yet, we should be looking at it a different way. We should be saving for that which we do not have. I can almost guarantee in the midst of saving and being patient until we can actually afford it, we will decide we would much rather spend our money more wisely. And that thing will no longer be something we cannot live without.
Being content can seem like an unattainable goal. It can feel like you’re never going to be satisfied with what you have. It is increasingly difficult in a society that insists we have more. But, we can be content. My mom was right, you can be happy with what you have, and not what you have not. Give these tips a try, I bet you can, with practice, be content after all.