Well, it's been a busy and interesting morning, already! It's a snowy January morning and I've just returned from taking my son to school… after he slid into a ditch down the road. Thankfully, he and his car are both okay, but definitely a wrench in his and my plans for the day.
As I was returning from taking him to school, I was listening to a podcast talking about our tendency in America towards consumption. They weren't just talking about physical goods, either. The guest on the show was also talking about consuming experiences. All in the pursuit of "happiness." But why do we have this tendency, and when is enough, enough? How do we know when we've reached the point that to consume any more would not get us any additional gains in happiness?
To answer the first question, I believe there are a number of factors. You could chalk it up to generations of parents setting the example for their children - comfort yourself with consuming… food or whatever. I've seen it happen over and over again. It could be attributed to the millions of advertisements we're exposed to on a daily basis. While we can say that the ads don't affect us, or we don't pay any attention, they are designed to work on a subconscious level. Whether you realize it or not, you're buying in to whatever they are selling you - usually a feeling that makes you want to purchase their product or experience.
So, how do we break the cycle? Just being aware of the rampant consumerism in your own life will go a long way towards helping you realize when you have enough. Next, take stock of what you already have. Are the things in your life serving a purpose? Do the objects you have currently increase your happiness or was the purchase a flash in the pan feeling that has since subsided? Then, before you purchase something else, or eat another bite, ask yourself, "Do I have enough? Will this one thing serve a longer purpose in my life to bring me happiness?"
Even as a person who tends toward minimalism and frugality, I struggle with this concept, too. I tend to consume learning. I know that doesn't sound like a bad thing. But, when is enough, enough? Will whatever course I've signed up for enrich my life? Am I wasting my time because I'm just filling a hole, or avoiding something else.
Take stock - think about your consumption habits. Try to figure out where your Happiness Line is and make a conscious effort to consume less.
Jennifer Raschig loves to share thoughts on creating restful spaces and presenting your best self every day.