Today, I discuss how to reduce your consumption of entertainment, food, and other items.
Modern Man Consumes Everything
People consume too much. Whether it’s television, food, resources, knick-knacks, and so on, people spend too much time and money on consumption. Furthermore, everything we overconsume is short-lived, unhealthy, and terrible for the soul.
Instead of creating new things, learning age-old skills, or enjoying the items we already have, the average person is driven to have more. Such a drive ensures we fill our faces with junk food, drive the latest car we can’t afford, and binge-watch all the mindless television we can find.
Of course, overconsumption leaves the human mind lost and depressed. Why? Firstly, when we consume, we are not focused on achieving. You can’t fulfill your personal goals while playing games. Secondly, consumption does not make one stronger, wiser, or more intelligent. Exercise and focused study make you more capable and skilled, not eating junk food or reading trash novels.
We may try to delude ourselves, but a life of consumption is a barren and useless one.
Why Do We Consume So Much?
Before our eyes we have the results of ideologies such as Marxism, Nazism and fascism, and also of myths like racial superiority, nationalism and ethnic exclusivism. No less pernicious, though not always as obvious, are the effects of materialistic consumerism, in which the exaltation of the individual and the selfish satisfaction of personal aspirations become the ultimate goal of life. In this outlook, the negative effects on others are considered completely irrelevant.” – Pope John Paul II
Overconsumption is only possible because of technology and poor economic policy. Because these two factors are at play, people can consume in a way they couldn’t a few generations ago.
We consume so much for three reasons:
- Technology has removed many physical, mental, and emotional challenges humans have traditionally faced. Why would you voluntarily embrace challenges if you do not have to worry about grueling labor, violent despots, and food shortages? Why control your eating habits when food is abundant and cheap, and there is no fear of a food shortage? Technology removes hard times, and without hard times, we have no real reason to reign in our excesses.
- Technology helps delay the consequences of our consumption. Why eat well when you can take a pill for heart disease or get a new kidney? Why better manage your time when you have labor-saving devices that give you more time to waste? Technology delivers an overabundance of resources, and we simply waste it all in service to our vices.
- Lastly, fiat currency punishes saving and rewards spending. A nation of spenders is a nation of consumers who do not invest in their future but buy more goodies for today. And usually, those goodies are cheap, mass-produced, and meant to be consumed over and over again without any long-term satisfaction. All of this excessive consumerism is rooted in a broken, evil monetary policy put forward by the government.
How to Reduce Your Consumption
As with most issues, rampant consumerism has to be reduced on an individual level. Individuals have to make the conscious decision to utilize their time, energy, and money more responsibly.
Therefore, let us look at the two best methods for reducing your consumption.
1) Budget your money and keep track of your time
When you don’t have a budget, you spend freely because you cannot see the effects of your spending. When you can not see the results of how you’re using your money or time, you’re more likely to waste these items because your mind always assumes you have more.
However, with a clear budget, you can know how much money you have, where it is going, and what it can go to. Additionally, if your track your time, you know what you’ve been doing, what you need to do next, and what time you can use.
To create a budget, you make an excel sheet of all your purchases for 30 days. Then, look over what you’ve purchased and determine what you can cut out. Do this for a month. The following month, you should start directing your finances toward the goals you set. However, you should track your spending habits and fill out an excel sheet with your purchases every month.
For time, I utilize Google calendar. I set monthly and weekly goals, then I create blocks of my time throughout the day. At the end of the day, I review my work and plan for tomorrow. Whenever I have a task I need to do later in the week, I create a time block. This system ensures I know what I’m doing, where my time is going, and what needs to be done next.
With both systems in place, you can prevent your time and money from being consumed by your vices and whims.
2) Find meaning in your life
When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure. – Viktor Frankl
People consume for two reasons: their lives have no deeper purpose, or they cannot control their whims. Both issues can be resolved or at least lessened by finding meaning in your life.
The obvious way to find meaning is through God. However, there are other avenues. I suggest searching your soul through journaling and self-talk. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Well, why not do it? You don’t have to quit your nine-to-five, abandon your family, or reject everything to pursue your goal. Nevertheless, having this life goal will help direct your “free time” towards something better and bigger than your consumption.
The more purpose you can create for your life, the more you will recoil at wasting your precious resources on distractions. Therefore, create a life goal and focus your efforts on reaching that goal. No matter how imperfect your actions may be.
There Are Endless Benefits From Reducing Your Consumption
I do not advocate for the “monk lifestyle.” You do not have to live a life without a crumb of junk food or a second of television if you want to be an individualist.
However, we all know what overconsumption is. We have experienced stomach aches after overeating or the mind-numbness of watching too much television. We may find it difficult to control ourselves, but we all understand the shame of overconsumption. And how much better our lives would be if we reigned in our vices.
Therefore, be measured with your vices. Seek to enjoy things in small bursts. Become an individual.
- How do you keep track of your time? How do you keep track of your spending? Do you find these systems work for you? Here is a question always worth considering: does this system help me reduce my vices and pursue my virtues?
- What is one thing you can cut out or reduce over the next month? For example, could you reduce your time watching TV by 20% or only having a dessert every other day?
- Have you ever successfully reduced or cut something out of your life? Did you notice the increase in the time you had or any feeling of joy? What would your life be like if you reintroduce the thing you let go of?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.