Friday, November 22, 2013

Breaking the Consumerism Addiction

As we're almost full-swing into the holiday season this year, I've been seeing several posts from friends online each week (since September!) about stores and commercials pushing the Christmas shopping season earlier and earlier. And while we all know what's going on here -- stores trying to get us to spend more money -- we fall for it because we love the holidays and can't wait to get into the "holiday spirit."

Before this year, I would have been a part of that, too. I love the holidays. And there's something about decorating your house and wrapping gifts for other that just feels good. So while I was never the one to go on a big shopping spree for the holiday season, I would definitely find myself in Target or at a street fair looking for some items to add some "holiday cheer" to my home. I mean really, who doesn't need a stuffed reindeer and another box of Christmas lights? (I happen to love both of these things!).

This year has been different, though. Despite all of my friends' updates on the holiday shopping season, I haven't felt even the tiniest bit of desire to go out and buy. In fact, when the husband and I were in Ikea last week (sadly, we caved and went to buy new  curtain rods for the house as part of our mad dash to get the house ready to move this weekend), I was so overwhelmed and grossed out by the mass consumption and cheaply made items all around me that I had to leave the store. Even the smell just seemed too much.

I think it's partly because the Bangladeshi garment factory collapse is still on my mind (Is any cute holiday sweater really worth 1,000 lives?), and partly because I'm so in the habit of getting what I need in other ways. But I think part of it, too, is the fact that I've broken a very real addiction that I and most of the country have with shopping. It's an addiction perpetuated by mass media -- when you see enough commercials for something, no matter how stupid you think it is, there is a part of your brain that becomes convinced that you need it (i.e. the $20-$40 rectangle of cheap felt that started the Snuggie craze). 

Because I haven't been in the habit of buying things, I haven't really been spending any time in stores, and because I don't have television (our TV is only hooked up to a DVD player, but we're thinking of getting rid of both in the move) or listen to commercial radio, I haven't been seeing or hearing any commercials. And you know? With the absence of all of those distractions telling me what I must have and must buy for that low low price, I feel really content with what I have. I don't feel deprived or like I'm fighting any urges to go out and buy. After a few months of removing those distractions from my life, I honestly didn't even notice that they were gone. If it weren't for my friends posts about holiday shopping, I think I probably could have forgotten about that craze altogether. 

Or to put it in pictures, because this post is getting a little long:

Aren't the holidays about this:
 And this:
And these:

Instead of this?:

 I realized last week that I have really broken my addiction. It's a wonderful feeling with less clutter, less envy, less stress, more money, more quality time, and more peace and contentment. Now that's some real holiday cheer.

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