Hi guys, so today I would like to look at an issue very much everybody is affected by: Compulsory consumption. The world we live in makes us believe that we need certain things to achieve happiness – that having a lot of money to buy all that awesome stuff, will make us happy. Because that’s how it works, right? That’s what we’re working for, right? Happiness – at some point in the future at least.
But the truth is: This day will never come. If we let our happiness depend on how much money we make and on what we own, we’ll never be satisfied and therefore never be happy. It’s a basic human instinct to crave more – more food, more status in the group, more affirmation. That’s how it already worked for the cave men as well. But of course, back then the situation was slightly different: It was about survival of the fittest (and the ones that could provide just enough food to secure their own, their female’s and their kid’s survival). But today – in our Western society at least – it’s not about survival anymore. Most of us have plenty of food! So, what do we do with all the spare resources we have (time, money, etc.)? We spend it on things. Things that will hopefully secure our status, make us more confident and happy. But in reality, that’s not what that stuff tends to do – in contrary, it tends to weigh us down, more and more since it’s becoming more and more. Because having a fancy car for example, doesn’t make you a different person. Neither does this Gucci bag, the Louboutin shoes, the big TV, the largest yard, the newest gadget or that mansion of yours. It really doesn’t do the job we were hoping it would. But instead of realising this, we cannot quite believe it – because craving more and having more is a basic human instinct and therefore must be the way to go, right? So, we buy more stuff. Try to get to that point at which total happiness finally kicks in. Because that point must be somewhere just around the corner, right? No, it isn’t. Because there is thisfundamental misunderstanding about said basic human instinct. And it’s not just our fault to have misinterpreted it or misunderstood it – this kind of understanding is fed to us every single day! Because there are people earning a lot of money with this concept. And there is a reason why companies invest extreme sums in advertising – because it’s worth it. They get their investments back, because we buy their products. We buy into their idea, without realising that it’s not reality or not doing its job. We’re searching the reason for this failure in our own lives. We believe it’s just us not earning quite enough, not spending (or call it investing) not quite enough in our happiness. And so, the vicious circle goes on and on.
And it makes so, so many people miserable. It makes them pour their money down a rat hole – which of course only makes it worse. So, debt is another phenomenon contributing to the whole tragedy. Because those very people are simply not becoming as happy as they hoped they would, the start striving for it even more vigorously – by exceeding their credit card limits (means spending even more on stuff). And this is happening so often that nowadays having debt has become somewhat usual. How sad is this? Mostly because the things that money was spent on to make you happy, simply do not do their job! You can’t buy happiness! Even worse, by trying to do so people manoeuvre themselves into such a misery (because I guess there is nobody being happy about his/her debt) that eventually they find themselves unhappier than ever – quite the opposite of what they wanted initially.
So, how do we stop this? How can we change this way of thinking? It’s actually easy: Only buy stuff you really want and need. And I feel it’s important to really stress out that the main factor is you. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you need to be happy, or worse what you should think. We’re all independent human beings with our own minds to work with. And we’re all different. So, naturally there is no one fits it all recipe to what should be purchased and what should be left on the shelf. There are those two, very well-fitting questions I once read on a blog (theminimalists.com), which would secure a certain level of consideration before any purchase:
- Does this add value to my life?
- Did I choose this thing deliberately?
So, I’m not against consumption – we all need to buy things to live and also to meet our needs beyond survival. But I’m very critical about compulsory consumption – about buying things only because we are made to buy them, not because we truly want or need them. So, go and turn on your brains guys! Make your purchases and life more meaningful.