Synonyms of consumption include burning, damage, decay, decrease, depletion, desolation, destruction, devastation, diminution, dispersion, dissipation, exhaustion, expenditure, loss, misuse, ruin, swallowing, using up, utilization, waste, wear and tear.
Now, maybe your trip to the mall last weekend didn’t feel destructive or devastating, but a few of the other words may sound familiar especially when we dissect our consumption habits over time. It’s not pretty. Especially not at the rate that we, as a society are consuming, devastating and using up whatever we can get our hands on.
The worst part is that the majority of our purchasing isn’t on things that we need or that add real value to our lives. Instead we are often after a feeling. We buy something because we hope it will make us feel productive, pretty, happy, loved, whole or just better than we feel now. And it does. For about five minutes.
It’s not bad to want to feel productive, pretty, happy, loved, or whole, but with a purchase, the emotions and feelings are not sustainable and we are left with debt, clutter and emptiness. There is a better way.
Trade in Consumption for …
Instead of working your anxiety out at the mall, write something, draw something, improve your photography skills. Make something out of nothing. Creating will make you feel productive.
Get together with friends and talk about how to make something better. Put your creative energies together and do something good with it. Cook for each other or go for a hike. Some of the best ideas come from movement and conversation. Collaborating will make you feel loved.
Give. Give. Give. Your time, talent and treasure is so much more valuable and meaningful when you give it away. Contributing will make you feel whole.
Meet new friends. Reach out to old friends. Start a Twitter account and connect with authors and artists that you admire. Join or start a meet up group. Connection will make you feel better.
Trading in consumption isn’t about spending nothing or not buying anything, but instead, paying attention to where your dollars and minutes go. Track your spending for a week or a month and acknowledge your spending habits. You might be spending more than you think. Maybe you don’t need to make as much as you do. Perhaps that debt free lifestyle is closer than you think.
Break the habit of shopping for sport, searching for happiness at the mall, or picking up extra, needless items while grocery shopping by shifting your focus from consumption and comparison to creativity, collaboration, contribution and connection.