What Is The Counterbalance To Consumerism?

What is the counterbalance to consumerism?

consumers-on-streetOriginally this post was going to be called ‘What is the antidote to consumerism’, but then I quickly realised that perhaps that sounded a bit loaded: consumerism isn’t all the bad it’s sometimes portrayed to be.

For the record I don’t necessarily subscribe to the notion that all consumerism is bad. But I am a little sceptical, thinking always that other things in life must be more important than things. Chasing things as a means to happiness, either short-term or long-term: is that really wise?

We can never get rid of ‘going through things’ and wanting to develop new technologies to replace the tired and old – ever since man made pointy sharpened sticks (arrows), we have ‘consumed’ and thrown away the redundant blunt sticks. It keeps artisans, engineers and inventors in business, and more importantly, in a livelihood. So perhaps it is not so much a remedy to all this consumerism that we seek; more – a counterbalance. A balancing out with an opposite force.

However, nowadays we don’t merely mean ‘using things up’ when we say consumerism; we imply the vast and fervent (almost fanatical) desiring of things we don’t have – just for pleasure’s sake alone. We mean non-stop shopping, browsing 24/7 in the physical space and the virtual, (in the absence of anything more meaningful to do), for the magical elixir of happiness (that must be out there somewhere); buying and using and using and using and never giving up in the quest for ‘having’ more and more stuff.

In the hope that it will somehow make us incrementally happier than we were before.

Does it?

Anyway, what is the counterbalance to consumerism when it all gets a bit, well, mad?

What are your thoughts on this? Here are mine:

  1. Read less. Think more. 
    Give up perusing newspapers, magazines, glossies, brochures, catalogues, books, the internet, blogs, etc. They’re all just ‘someone else’s opinion’ at the end of the day. If you must sit down, then exercise your own thoughts and desires instead.
  2. Shop less. Walk more.
    Give up the endless perusing and browsing of stores, both online and in actual shops. Go out for many long walks instead. Avoid things you can purchase. Think about your health. Think about where you sit in the universe.
  3. Dress simply.
    Give up trying to impress anybody. Give up on your relentless ‘outward impression’. Take the pressure off. For a while, anyway. Let everyone else see you looking as plain as possible. Do they still admire you, respect you, even like you? Don’t worry about what you’ve got on, how you look, whether you have the right shoes, trousers, coat, makeup product, latest handbag or sunglasses, whether you conform to current trends or even if you look very unfashionable. Try being as comfortable and as thoughtless in your appearance as possible.
  4. Do your hobby more.
    Do whatever it is that you most love doing; be it a hobby, an interest, a sport, a cultural pastime, a creative activity, a study. And do it more often. E.g. mine would be ‘firestarting’ = go to a beach and just start a fire from the driftwood you find there, and tend it as you watch it go woof!. So pointless, but very very necessary (to my emotional needs anyway); just to do something for the sheer hell of it!
  5. Make more ‘times’.
    Spend more time – just time – with family and friends. Focus on the ‘time’ you have only; not on what things you have around you or what you want to show off or what new ideas you want to impress upon other people. Forget the past, forget the future. For a moment. Laugh more. Share fun more.

And do you have any other ideas about how we can counterbalance the Sunday papers? How to get our own happiness (and sanity) back?

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