“Go on, but only buy what you need.” These are almost always the words, I hear if I’m heading to do the supermarket run. And my wife is right!

Consumerism is not a pathway to joy and meaning in life. This isn’t new. We all feel it to be true.
If specifically asked the question, nobody would ever say the secret to a joyful, meaningful life is to buy lots of stuff. Deep down, we know we were made for something bigger: something more significant than passing consumption.
Nobody really believes happiness is directly tied to the number of things we own. Yet almost all of us live like it.
We work more hours than ever before, earn more income, but save less. Personal debt continues to increase dramatically. My wallet has too many plastic options. And the average credit card holder now has three different credit cards in his or her pocket. Will Rogers captures it well, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like!”

We never intentionally set out to buy more than we need or spend more than we make. But here’s the problem: Mindless consumption always turns into excessive consumption.

And excess consumption results in stress, burden, pressure to impress, envy, and that’s before considering the environmental impact.It is time to rethink our spending habits, rediscover thoughtfulness and greater intentionality in our purchases. So how about this?

1. Reassess the life you have created. Might you slow down enough to assess the whole picture of your habits, choices and pursuits?
2. Don’t copy others. Your life is too unique to live like everyone else.
3. Know your weaknesses. What prompts weak lifestyle choices? What needs to get eliminated?
4. Check motivations. Let meaning, significance and service win out over greed, envy and self.
5. Count real costs. It’s not just what you acquire, but the accessories to the acquisition. Henry David Thoreau said it best, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
6. Give things away. Because there’s nothing like the freedom of a decent spring-clean! Choose courageously. Freecycle and streetbank would love your resources.
7. Pursue joy. Yes that, above all…….

Make intentionality your highest pursuit. Not consumerism. Julie’s right, “Don’t buy what you don’t need.”

*Written firstly for the Breathe Network. Sign up and participate!