The advent of the digital age has driven consumerism to an all time high. It’s so easy to purchase the things that we want or catch our eye with a simple click on our computer or tapping our phones or tablets, rather than to be content with what you have.
Moreover, the prevalent social media culture gives us a glimpse into the lives of friends and acquaintances and even celebrities. We see images of their travels and the material things they own, from shoes, clothes, cars and gadgets, filtered to perfection and giving the impression of complete satisfaction. It does something to our brain and we start to think that the only way we can be happy is if we can fill our social media pages with images of these seemingly blessed existence.
But what we don’t see is what lies behind these beautiful images, especially for non-celebrities and non-heir/heiresses. There’s racking up credit card and personal debts and working endless hours just so we can keep up this illusion of a happy, material filled life all the while worrying about how you’re going to pay the next installment for your new mobile phone.
Just sit back and imagine instead a life free of these material excesses. Imagine working because you enjoy your work and not because you need to pay off your credit card bill. Or finding satisfaction in curling up with a good book and drinking homemade brewed coffee instead of an overpriced cappuccino. Or having a simple dinner with your loved ones at home instead of a five star restaurant. Or not having to buy the latest fashion every week just so you can keep up with trends so you have less clutter and more space to breathe. Imagine actually having savings for your future.
How to be content with what you have
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to travel or buying the occasional designer handbag or latest gadget. But when it starts taking over your life and you start living well beyond your means, it stops bringing joy to your life and instead becomes a very expensive problem.
So how can we curb the need to always want more? How can we control our consumerist nature and learn to be content with what we have? How can we stop material excesses from ruling our lives? It’s not going to be easy but here are five tips you can practice:
- Know When Something is An Impulse Purchase: It’s quite easy to recognize an impulse purchase. If you’ve never thought about it before and really have no need for it, it’s most probably one. If you only want it because you saw it on your favorite celebutante’s Instagram feed, it’s probably not necessary in your life. If you’re only buying something to compensate something bad that happened that day, a fight with a friend or a lecture from your boss, it’s most likely an impulse purchase. Knowing what compels you to buy something is the first step.
- There’s Such a Thing as Impulse Control: It’s an impulse, you don’t need to follow it and you’re strong enough not to succumb to your impulses. Control yourself and that feeling will pass eventually. Don’t take out the credit card immediately when you see something you want. Take a walk, have a drink, or make a phone call and you’ll find the impulse will go away.
- Assign a Limit to Your Spending: Treating yourself with things you don’t need and you simply want is not always a bad thing. But there has to be a limit. Assign a limit to your spending and stick to it. Keep a journal of the things you’ve bought in a week or a month so you can see for yourself on paper if you’ve been spending excessively. You can also assess what you already own so you can see for yourself that you have more than enough.
- Don’t Compare What You Have With What Others Have: When you start comparing what you have with what others do, it will never seem like enough. When it comes to judging our material ownership, focus on what you already own. You are the only one who can decide what makes you happy and what you really need to make you happy. If you’re having trouble doing this, cut yourself off from social media if you need to. Learn to appreciate what you have and you will find that it is enough…that you yourself are enough.
- Find Joy in the Simple Things: You don’t always have to spend money to enjoy yourself. Sometimes the simplest things in life can bring us the most happiness. Cook for your family and friends, have a nice conversation with some hot cocoa, read a book, write in your journal or listen to some music. These tiny ways will let you appreciate what you already have and help you further realize that you don’t need material things to make you feel more.
To continue to be content with what you have is an ongoing process. The consumerist culture is all around us and it can be very hard to ignore. But if we keep practicing simplicity, learning to appreciate the things we already have, and controlling our impulses, we’ll find that we can be more content with less and find happiness without racking up debt.
What are some things you practice to be content with what you have? Share them in the comments.