How to Consume Less Stuff to Enjoy Life More
- Friday, December 17, 2010
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Reverend Mark Powley's recent book, Consumer Detox: Less Stuff, More Life, (Zondervan, 2010).
Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year to try to influence the way you live. They constantly send messages telling you that you won't enjoy life to the fullest if you don't buy their products. But true enjoyment isn't found in what you purchase. It's found in your relationship with God - and God wants you to focus less on consumerism and more on what matters most. Contrary to what the advertisers say, breaking free of consumerism won't give you a smaller life; it will give you a larger vision of how to become the person God made you be.
Here's how you can break the hold of consumerism on your life:
Admit the problem. Acknowledge the damage that consumerism has done to your life. Confess your struggles with consumerism to God, and ask Him to help you break free of it.
Claim the right identity. Don't give in to the pressure of trying to make your life fit the image of what advertisers tell you it should project. Realize that your real identity goes far beyond who you are as a consumer. Your identity is found in nothing less than the fact that you're God's child, connected to Him through Jesus - someone who is loved completely and unconditionally, no matter what you do or don't buy. So don't waste time, energy, or money trying to make a name for yourself or a place for yourself in society through what you purchase. Instead, relax and derive your security from the fact that you have an identity that you can't buy but that can't be shaken by anything.
Realize that you're richer than you know. Living in the western world during the 21st century, you're richer than most people on the planet now, and also richer than most people in history. But you need to understand just how rich you truly are, so you can learn how to appreciate what you have and be satisfied with it - which makes you far less prone to falling for advertisers' schemes to get you to buy more. Spend some time helping people who are actually poor, and let those experiences give you a new perspective on your own life. Thank God often for what He has given you through His grace.
Change from a passive consumer into a critical viewer. Recognize how the advertising you see shapes your desires. The resist it by scrutinizing it, discussing it, disputing it, refusing it, and tuning it out in favor of greater desires - what God wants for you.
Live within limits. Rather than following consumerism's demand that you maximize your life - pursuing whatever you want as much as you can - let yourself be caught up in a purpose that's much bigger than your own self-gratification: sharing with others as God leads you. Although that will require living within limits to have resources available to share, your life will become richer when you do so.
Exit the 24/7 world. It's possible to be a consumer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but living like that is exhausting because it goes against the natural rhythm of life that God designed. Take breaks (such as a weekly Sabbath day) regularly to rest and reflect on how to live more creatively.
Be present sometimes and absent at other times. Consumerism keeps you constantly distracted, but God wants you to focus more. Sometimes He calls you to be present with other people, alert to them, alive to what they're saying, and attentive to their needs. Sometimes He calls you to be absent, withdrawing from others for quiet and stillness.
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