Thoughts on Consumerism & Gratitude
November 8, 2018
I had a realization this week: I’ve let the pressure of social media drive my purchasing decisions a little too much in the past few months and I’m on a mission to change that. Watching the influx of ‘likes’ when I posted something new or even slightly more on trend gave me a great (temporary) feeling. The ‘high’ of receiving a package in the mail with my new purchase was an addiction. Consumerism is an evil notion.
We have been conditioned to consume. No, really. Marketing makes us believe that we have a problem and that product/service from company XYZ is the solution to our problem. As a lover of fashion, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to show the world a new item of clothing when in reality I’ve got plenty in my wardrobe that I should be grateful for and should take more pride in repurposing outfits than I already do. Surely my audience will get bored of seeing the same handbag over and over again? Perhaps. But I need to change the perception of wanting and needing more. Your bank account will thank you and so will the planet. Apparently so will your brain…
One of my best friends shared this article with me. It’s about how buying into fast fashion affects our brains – not just our budgets. It was such an insightful (& quick!) read that addresses the mental affect of ‘retail therapy’ and how we’ve become more and more reliant on that quick, yet temporary, fix. I’ve absolutely succumbed to the ‘retail therapy’ high in my past and admittedly sometimes in my present (just less often and now with ethical purchases). What a powerfully negative affect this impulse has on our minds. For those who struggle with constant online comparison (such as myself) you’ll identify with that feeling of wanting more. You know you don’t need it, but if so-and-so can attain it, surely you can too. If anyone has watched the documentary Happy on Netflix, then you’ll recognize the hedonic treadmill trend here and why this sets us up for depression, anxiety, and plenty of self-doubt.
I haven’t shopped from a mall in years (primarily due to the fact that there are almost 0 ethical stores to shop from) but that didn’t stop me from moving my retail therapy online. The excitement from getting a new package on my doorstep became an addiction. Thankfully, my account manager (read: Eddie) identified that I was going over budget and asked me to stop. I haven’t bought anything new in at least two months (may not sound like a lot but for someone who likes shopping I find this quite rewarding) and I’ve already lost the desire to shop constantly. It really does take 28 days to break a habit, huh?
We’ve all been told to practice the mantra of gratitude. I’m only now coming to realize its worth. By reflecting on what we have and not what we don’t have we can reframe our current existence into a much more positive one. Instead of purchasing new items for my wardrobe that I more than likely don’t need, I’m going to start being grateful for what I already have, getting far more creative with my outfits, and stop caring about having a new item to share on social media – and you should too! This gratitude mantra can transcend into every area of our lives and is something we should all practice daily. I recently started a gratitude journal (thanks to some inspiration from my friend Rebecca!) and am writing in it every morning. I’m making a concerted effort to be happier with my current state rather than constantly wanting more.
Less consuming. More gratitude for what we already have.