I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.
― Emile Gauvreau
Consumerism has taken over the western world. Whether it’s stuff replacing relationships, environmental degradation, or sweatshops in third world countries, the problems with mindless consumption abound.
But let’s do something a little unorthodox. Let’s ignore those problems and focus on something much more personal. I want to appeal to your ego and convince you that your consumption limits your personal freedom.
Freedom isn’t a vague set of ideals, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Rather, freedom is the power to spend your waking hours doing what you wish. More free time → more freedom. Your biggest enemy, the biggest consumer of your time is your day job. Get rid of the day job, and you’ll be free.
The shortest path to not needing a paycheck is to drastically cut your expenses while gradually increasing your income. This takes time but is doable for most Americans.
Now it may not be reasonable for you to live without a paycheck right now. I get that. But you can restructure your life by spending less money today. Then you’ll be free to work fewer hours. And you’ll have more free time.
Here it is in a nutshell, the selfish reason to stop being a mindless consumer:
Less consumption → less work → more freedom.
With that in mind, let’s walk through the strategies to stop being a mindless consumer.
What causes consumption?
- We’re trained to be dissatisfied with what we have
- Craving never stops and my potato chip addiction
- Consumption spirals, especially big ones
- Craving completeness
Manage your emotions
- Avoid ads because they’re evil
- Create a long term goal
- Change your environment, change your consumption
- Remind yourself that happiness levels stay consistent
- Ask: Will I soon forget about this purchase?
- Limit pleasurable things so they don’t lose their novelty
- Learn to tolerate boredom
- Beware of aspirational identities
Manage your stuff
- Less Space, Less Stuff
- The complete guide to decluttering clothes
- Limit your space for clothes
- Stop wasting money by starting new projects every 20 minutes
- Should you keep old yearbooks?
- How I think about the “smartphone vs dumb phone” debate