Spend, spend, spend.
Compare, compare, compare.
More, more, more. Fun, fun, fun.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what would life be like if we didn’t think that we needed all that? Could we still be happy?
What if instead, we could be happy through simplicity and gratitude? What if we could find happiness and contentment by doing simple things, like going for a walk, reading or spending time in prayer?
And what if by enjoying these simple pleasures and buying and accumulating less, you end up with less debt, less clutter and less stress?
What if we could recognize our wants and desires and then learn to properly deal with them and not be driven by them? What if we could begin to recognize them as addictions, quick fixes and certainly not helpful?
Personally, I’ve been exploring this myself for the past several years. And while I’ve improved, I occasionally have some slips and failures. I still find my house has more furniture than is needed. For some strange reason, I still own about 30 t-shirts that I can’t seem to part with. And my dogs have enough toys for an entire neighborhood of canines.
But, I’ve also had many successes with simplicity and contentedness, by following these simple rules:
Say no to impulse buys
Impulse buys are really nothing more than a desire to be happy by doing what other people are doing, a need to ‘solve’ problems or fill a self-perceived void in your life by acquiring things. I’ve learned to recognize these impulses and say, “nope, I don’t need this.” Sometimes after saying “NO” and leaving the store or clicking off the internet page, I’ll still be chewing on it in my mind, still wanting the item. But usually within minutes or hours, I’ve let it go and realized I didn’t need it – which I’m sure make my house and wallet both very happy.
Worldly people tend to only think about enjoying their life – following after one pleasure to the next, while giving God and those around them little or no consideration. I know this well, because this was me for many years of my life. I’ve learned that events, parties and vacations come and go very quickly. And without a relationship with God, the pleasures aren’t sustainable in keeping a person happy. By keeping God close in our lives, we can learn to accept and be content with the routine and even the struggles in our lives. And be appreciative of the events, parties and vacations, without feeling like our lives are empty and void without them.
Stop chasing trends
Did you buy that top-of-the-line food processor because you really needed it, or because it was on sale, even though it still cost hundreds of dollars? Did you upgrade to the newest cell phone because you truly needed a larger screen or because television and print ads said you would be happier with it? Learn to be happy and content with what you already have. And trust your instincts.
Recognize that this moment right now is enough to be happy
Often we have a desire to spend, so we can experience what others are experiencing. “John just posted a picture on Facebook of him and his family at Extreme Adventure Wonderland … I want to go, too!” And somehow my life is now less because I’m not racing down a water slide at 40 miles per hour? And my present (where I am now) isn’t somehow enough?
So often in life we aren’t satisfied or happy with what is right in front of us. Develop a practice to pray more and more to recognize that the current moment, your moment, is already enough — everything you need is right here, right now.
Enjoy simple things
How often do we look back and reflect only to find that often our happiest memories came from simple pleasures? I traveled the entire country of France and thoroughly enjoyed the trip, yet only have a handful of mostly vague memories. However, I vividly remember the times that my friend Thorsten and I would sit on my deck, many, many years ago, talking about life until the late hours with only fast food and uncomfortable lawn chairs to accompany us.
Simplicity is often the key. We can go for walks, spend time in prayer, sit and read a book, enjoy a steaming hot cup of coffee, play some music, have a conversation with someone (even without fast food) or simply do nothing at all.
To be happy with who and where you are now often takes practice. For some it comes naturally. For others, they must work at it. And most importantly, recognize when the desire and addictions for ‘more’ come to pay you a visit.
These desires will come in the form of advertising, websites, shopping, magazines, seeing what other people are doing and very often (more than often!) from comparing our lives to others on social media.
The desires will often return but we have a built-in solution within us. A solution that God has given us, if we ask Him for it.
To help you be happy and content with who and where you are now.
With what you have now. With you.