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How many things in life do you think you’ve completely worn out?
Other than the patience of our parents when we were children, I doubt that many Americans use all of their possessions until they had absolutely NO usefulness whatsoever.
So, does this make us all bad people?
Of course not.
But our lack of resourcefulness does explain a lot of things about our lives.
It explains why most people struggle to get their finances in order. It explains why our dumps and oceans are full of all the crap we discard. And it explains why we can’t stop shopping….
Because we lack one thing…..contentment.
Contentment: A state of being happy and satisfied.
Happy, but not because you just got a raise, or a new outfit, or a new pair of shoes.
Happy, because you’re alive. Happy, because the sun came up today. Just happy.
Contentment may sound simple, and it is. But it’s very difficult to maintain.
We Americans are presented with nearly 5,000 images per day to consume! That’s over 208 images per hour and 3.47 images every minute! That’s crazy!
No wonder contentment is so difficult to maintain! Everything in our culture tells us NOT to be content. The word “advertise” means to “divert attention”, towards a product and away from any sense of contentment.
So, do we simply give up and stay in our consumerism and debt-driven lives?
Frankly, it would be easier than trying to cultivate a sense of contentment. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been one to go with the crowd. I’m making a choice to be counter-cultural and lead a different kind of life.
Not just for me and my husband, but for our children. Without a model, our kids are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their elders.
There is a different way and it’s achievable. Finding like-minded friends and Facebook groups is one way to start. We all need support.
Cultivating good habits is truly the way to fostering a sense of contentment long term. Daily thought processes are important as well, I recommend some sort of quiet time in the morning to get your mind calm and controlled. Find a devotional or a podcast that you enjoy, that will set you up for a successful day!
Turn off the Media
There’s a good reason that advertisers pay $5 million dollars for a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl…..it works.
Ads work. (Remember the definition of “advertising”??)
You can’t argue with ads, the best way to deal with them is to avoid them. Turn them OFF.
Turn off the TV! Establish healthy TV watching habits (is that a thing?) for your family, and don’t let the TV just be on with no one watching. Those commercials are getting into your brain, whether you realize it or not.
I’ve never been a big TV watcher, I prefer the house to be quiet.
While driving, consider turning the radio off and use that time to think and meditate. I solve so many problems when I’m driving!
If you do choose to listen to something while driving, at least make a conscious decision about what you choose to fill your mind with. Play a CD that you enjoy or listen to podcasts, but YOU choose, not the radio.
Quality merchandise will last longer than cheap products. It’s just a fact.
However, the price of better quality goods can hold us back from purchasing them. Settling for a lesser quality item may cost less now, but it won’t last as long and you’ll wind up replacing it.
I learned this lesson a long time ago and here’s my take.
I would rather wait and save to buy that better quality item than to settle for a sub-par item. There’s nothing wrong with some “delayed gratification” in life, and there’s nothing wrong with saving for something you want. (Why don’t we DO that anymore??)
Again, counter-cultural, I know. But, it keeps you out of debt and pays off in the long run!
Story: Raising a large family, I cook a lot from scratch! For the longest time, I had a random collection of pots and pans. Some had lids, most were too small for my tribe. I craved a set of pots and pans that would really serve my family and be the tools I needed!
So, I started squirreling away a few dollars each week from my grocery budget (we were on a cash system) until I finally had enough to buy what I wanted, which was a set of Cuisinart Belgique stainless steel cookware.
I still have that set (18 years later) and it’s still going strong! Barely looks used and I’ll never get rid of it.
The moral of the story is that when you buy good quality products that you really need and use, they could very well be the last ones you ever need to buy.
Another way to score quality items, whether they be cars, clothes or housewares, is to purchase them used.
Remember, quality merchandise wears well. So, even though someone else might have “used” it for a month or a year, it’s probably still in very good condition – as opposed to a cheaper quality counterpart!
When I need clothing (which isn’t very often), I go straight to the thrift stores and look for quality labels. I have a wonderful winter coat made by Anne Klein that I got for $5 at Goodwill years ago, still going strong.
Appliances can be had for a song on Facebook marketplace! Most appliance needs can be met with good, used ones.
People move into a new home, buy all new appliances and then move out in a year…OR they move into a home with good, used appliances but MUST have new ones. Crazy. BUT, this is how to score good quality at a discounted rate. Just be patient and look for that great deal, it’s out there.
Then use them until they are completely dead.
Once again, the consumer-driven economy in which we live tells us to throw away, rather than repair.
It’s not worth the time and effort. Cheaper to buy a new one.
That may be true, frankly, when we purchase poorly made things.
However, the skill of learning to repair things is of more value than the item itself.
For example: How many young people do you know, right now, who could sew on a button if asked to? How many could open the hood of a car and check the oil? What about changing a furnace filter?
Over the last couple of generations, we’ve lost so many of the skills that we need in life to maintain and manage a household and a family!
“Home economics” isn’t taught in schools anymore (although I hear it’s making a comeback!). “Shop” has also exited the high school curriculum. Life skills have taken a back-seat to higher math and science classes.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m all in for math and science. However, we have largely created a generation of young people who are completely incapable of taking care of themselves!
But it begins with us. Make the effort to learn how to repair things, YouTube is a great source. Once you learn, or even AS you learn, invite your kiddos to join you.
Up-cycling is simply “to reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.”
Up-cycling is quite popular these days, whether it be clothing, furniture or housewares, people are making due with what they have!
Here’s some inspiration:
Clear Out What You Don’t Use and Replace with Functional Items
You might be realizing that you have a whole lot of stuff that you don’t need or want. That’s a good thing, because now you realize it!
How can you fill your life and home with good quality items when they’re full of junk?
Start with one room or one closet. Completely empty it out and clean. Take a hard look at what you have. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I really use? (Box up the rest)
- Where are the gaps? (Save up and buy used)
- Who can I donate or sell these other items to? (Facebook market place, Craigslist).
Don’t Put Yourself in a Position to Shop
With over 3 images per minute in your face, every day, asking you to buy them, I think it makes sense to consciously lower your risk of buying unnecessarily.
- Get off of mailing lists and throw away any catalogs your receive.
- Stay out of stores as much as possible. NEVER roam around a store! Studies are clear that the longer you are in a store, the more likely you will buy something. This is why staple items are located in the far corners of a grocery store, to force you to walk through all of the other isles to get to them.
- When you do shop, take a list and even an accountability person. Get in and get out.
- Don’t surf the internet to shop. It’s so much easier to “click” shop. Discipline yourself to not do this.
- Delete apps on your phone that make it easy to purchase unnecessary items.
- Unsubscribe to email solicitors.
Contentment is wonderful. But you must work towards it. It doesn’t come naturally.
Read, meditate and pray each day. Bring your mind under control to focus on what’s important. Write little note cards to yourself and keep them in your car and on your bathroom mirror. Limit your associations with people who’s habits don’t line up with yours.
It’s amazing that when we begin to change, the dollars and cents begin to work themselves out.
Week Four: Do Without