Our culture tells us through pervasive advertising and the comparison trap of social media that we are not enough and that we can remedy our failures through conspicuous consumption. We purchase status symbols to “elevate” our persona in an attempt to bolster our self-esteem. In light of this, it is understandable that many of us lose sight of our intrinsic selves in the quest for approval from a face we will never meet.
This isn’t any revelation. As early as 1928, the humorist Robert Quillen put it so eloquently when he expressed his understanding of consumer culture.
“Americanism: Using money you haven’t earned to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.”1928 June 4, The Detroit Free Press, Paragraphs by Robert Quillen, Quote Page 6, Column 4, Detroit, Michigan. (Newspapers_com)
When I look at the clutter in my life I begin to wonder if I even like half of the things that I have accumulated. I feel the buyer’s regret for the waste, but also overwhelmed with the amount of junk that I now have to reorganize or declutter.
We all live in the age of influence where many of us are interacting with the marketing agents of Instagram hundreds of times a day through our mobile phones. People are generally very willing to admit that they experience FOMO after watching their favorite travel vlogger, but this desire reaches into material goods as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of the things that we aspire to have are not a result of our preferences but the physical proof of our yearning to experience life outside of their own.
So do you feel more affluent after having purchased the latest trend piece?
I don’t. I am endlessly frustrated by society’s need to fit me into its consumption mold and disappointed every time I yield to the latest product. Luxury for me is not just in the price tag, but any act or object that makes me feel in abundance. As of late, I have been examining what makes me feel opulent and where I can cultivate luxury in my life. At the same time, I am letting go of the things that are no longer spark joy in my life and is adding to the clutter in my home.
The greatest gift you can treat yourself to is a license to be unapologetically yourself.
START WITH A PAUSE
Take a break from the barrage of media and the siren calls of store windows. If you are on the journey to cultivate things in your life that bring you happiness and serve a purpose then begin by shutting out external messaging offering a quick fix for your happiness. The most powerful exercise for me has been to jump on a social media diet. Even if you are not set out to save money, just by removing your attention from your social media feel, believe me, you will. A bit more money in your wallet is just a nice bi-product of choosing to focus inward and shutting down impulse spending.
REFLECT AND RECONNECT
Take time to reflect on what your goals and values are to reconnect with yourself. Learn what has value for you. For me, this is currently taking the form of appreciation and gratitude. I have always journaled to release my thoughts from the muddled chatter in my mind.
Typically my journal consists of a stream of though entries where I try to get my ideas from the day on paper. Recently I have been doing more targeted journaling using the Five Minute Journal to intentionally focus on those items which bring me happiness and identify how I can actively improve my day and cultivate more positivity in my life. I highly recommend this tactic for anyone looking to invite more positivity into their life as it has helped me to recognize the agency and power I have over my state of mind how this can reframe everything else in a new light.
DESIGN AND CURATE
Redefine what luxury means to you. If you have a soft spot for candles and all things snuggly, splash out on the best robe you can find that makes you feel as if you are at a spa retreat. If you have a fetish for handbags, then research what styles would be best for lifestyle, think about what colors would work with your existing wardrobe and search for superb quality so you can enjoy that handbag every day. Designing a life of luxury is not about the senseless acumination of material goods. It is about designing a life that truly brings you joy and makes you feel in abundance.
I challenge you to join me in my journey of self-discovery and to identify what most makes you feel that you are living in abundance.