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10 Reasons to Quit Excessive Consumerism

10 Reasons to Quit Excessive Consumerism

With advertising bombarding our senses everywhere we go, it’s very hard to not be tempted to buy the newest gadget or gear on the market. While buying things is a part of life, a balance must be implemented or things can get out of control. Here are 10 reasons to put the plastic back in your pocket.

1) Less Stress

Chasing the lure of the next great purchase, that one thing that will finally make you happy, can get addictive. Unfortunately, no matter how happy you are when you buy something, that feeling fades. The bills, however, don’t. Most families are burdened with too much credit card debt because they decided that having that next greatest thing was more important than saving or staying out of debt. The stress caused by excessive consumerism and financial turbulence is showcased in statistics for divorce, suicide, and healthcare costs.

2) Less Stuff

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About two years ago, I left a very lucrative job, sold our house, car, and all of our stuff, and moved to another country to join my husband who had been living overseas due to a career advancement opportunity. It was very difficult selling everything that I had used to create my comfortable cushy life. I was emotionally attached to all of my stuff, however, once I let it go, an unexplainable calm came over me. It was like all my things had been weighing me down, and suddenly I was free to breathe again. When you have a lot of possessions, you have to take care of them, organize them, maintain them, and manage them. I have moved many times, and lugging all of my junk around was exhausting. Now, I can go anywhere, do anything, and not have any extra weight holding me down. I have never been a minimalist before, but after being forced to experience it due to life circumstances, I will continue to embrace it in my life.

3) Less Strife

Money problems, often caused by excessive consumerism, are one of the main things listed by couples as cause for breaking up. Not only does money stress cause couples relationship conflict, it trickles down to the children. Overworked parents, often feeling guilty for spending so much time at work, spoil their kids. Young, impressionable minds learn that what you have and can afford is more important than character, and they then cause their parents additional headaches by manipulating them into buying them more clothes, electronics, and cars to stay up with the latest trends. Parents spend longer hours at their jobs to pay for a lifestyle that they don’t even have time to enjoy. This causes resentment and leads to more strife in the family.

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4) Less Sick

When people are addicted to spending, they can easily become unhealthy both mentally and physically. The pressure to perform at work to pay for an excessive lifestyle can translate to multiple ailments from too much stress, not enough sleep, unhealthy eating, and lack of exercise. People also cope with the stress by excessive drinking, smoking, and other risky behaviors. These lifestyle choices are all indirectly caused by the pressure to make more money to fill the insatiable need to spend more and pay off debt from previous purchases.

5) Less Show

No one walks around with their financial health on their forehead, so we don’t often get credit from others for being responsible. Instead, we are judged by what we wear, where we live, what we drive, what we have. This creates the temptation to go into debt to impress others as a high roller with a show of success. Even if it is just a facade, for many people it’s worth going into debt to gain this perceived level of respect. Unfortunately, if you can’t create an income to match your spending, this is a game that can only go on for so long before the house of cards crumbles. The friends that were gained because they loved your success are often gone when you are no longer able to feed the lifestyle. It’s better to be real and surround yourself with people who want to be around you for more sustainable reasons than a flashy show.

6) More Time

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If you aren’t working insane hours to pay off excessive consumerism, you have more time to spend on your family, invest in your health, and live life to the fullest. We are all given 24 hours in a day. I personally don’t want to spend a large portion of time working a second job to pay for a boat that I don’t have time to enjoy. I would rather travel, invest in relationships, and help others through volunteer work and supporting charities.

7) More Health

Your health is your greatest wealth. Without the stress of excessive spending, you can create a more rewarding lifestyle. Taking care of yourself well takes time and effort, two things people often can’t muster when trying to keep up with the family next door. For some people, buying things becomes an addictive behavior that can spiral out of control. Letting go of this need for greed is a healthy part of discovering that you are enough without the stuff.

8) More Money

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When you spend less, you automatically save more. While you may look less showy on the outside, your net worth is increasing. This can create additional compounding success as you invest more money into areas that can multiply it further like retirement accounts, investment trading, idea creation, or real estate endeavors. When you go into debt, not only do you lose the money from the initial purchase, you also spend more that the original price on interest. If your spending causes stress that impacts your health, the dollars continue to drain out on doctor visits, medication, and counselors. When you overspend, you may appear rich, but are actually very poor. When you curb this need to buy everything in favor of longer-term investment goals, you eventually find the wealth you were trying to project all along.

9) More Love

When you learn to depend less on things and more on yourself, you discover that you are more than enough. You become real and learn to love yourself, which shows more depth of character than those who have to dazzle with doodads. You also place more priority on people than on things. This confidence is attractive to others. While you may draw a shallow following by flashy living, it’s a demanding crowd that will only last as long as the cash keeps coming. If you abandon this concept for more sustainable relationships, you will know you are loved for who you are and not what you give. You will also have more time to invest in people because you aren’t paying for things. You can take time to volunteer, donate to charities, take your spouse on a picnic, or play with your kids. This is a much more rewarding way to live, and you will find you are loved by many more just for choosing this path.

10) More Freedom

When you drop your need to impress and accumulate meaningless junk, you find you have so much more time and energy to pursue life. Things really don’t matter in the end. At the end of your life, all of your toys won’t matter anyway. They will just be something your children have to sort through and get rid of at an estate sale. Loving people and pursuing your passions bring deeper contentment. Excessive spending can cage you in with debt, other’s expectations, and stress. You may find you are working for a life you don’t even get to enjoy. But, you can open that door and walk away from the iron bars any time you decide that life is about living, not spending.

Trust me, quitting excessive consumerism is something that would make your life simpler and happier.

More by this author

Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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