As I struggle to juggle all of the challenges and stress associated with holiday shopping, gift-giving
and the demands of the season, a few thoughts weigh heavily on my mind.
We live in a consumer-driven economy and society, and it is hard to internalize this concept.
At every turn we are bombarded with billboards, television ads, and other media
that compels us to consume more and more “things”.
Even visiting other people’s homes or seeing their new vehicles can give us a sense that we need
more, better, and bigger stuff.
It seems like a new electronic gadget or nifty new item comes out every day, and if the price is low
we feel almost compelled to add this item to our collection of things.
Does this concern you too?
Are we overdoing it?
There is an old saying that “less is more.”
What, exactly, does this mean?
Can a little really satisfy?
How Can Less Be More?
Think of it this way.
If you clean out your closets, do you re-discover things you forgot you had?
While this can be kind of fun, it is really a sad commentary on our over-stuffed lives that we don’t
even remember what we own!
“If you had fewer items, you would
appreciate them more and, ultimately,
those items would be used more fully
and add more to your life.”
This is the essence of the “less is more” principle.
When you are not distracted by clutter and things and the latest demands being made on you by
the great new cell phone you just bought, you have more time for people.
When you cease to focus on stuff, you have the time and opportunity to focus on people.
Relationships are, ultimately, more fulfilling than inanimate objects.
Once again, less (stuff) is more (personal fulfillment).
Gadgets and things require responsibility.
You have to clean, maintain, and store all of these things–cars have to be washed and taken in
for oil changes and other maintenance, electronic gadgets need to be upgraded, and toys take up
plenty of space on the shelf or otherwise in your home.
Things complicate your life.
Fewer things make for a simpler life.
When you don’t toss out and replace old items with the latest thing, you develop a sense of
appreciation for what you do have.
You are more likely to repair, fix, and treat gently those items that you are not going
to toss aside.
You will also think twice before purchasing something new, because you know it will have to
last a while.
When you think about it, this promotes quality products and durable items.
If that’s what people buy, that’s what manufacturers will produce.
Your home should be your refuge, the place where you invite people or spend time alone, where you
reconnect with family and relax.
It can also be your workplace.
If it’s messy, you may find yourself distracted and frustrated and unable to relax.
Less stuff equals more inner peace, basically, since you have fewer stressors surrounding you.
Tying in with the neat home, learning to be content with what you have and not desiring the latest
thing can be very freeing.
It gives you a sense of relief to know you are not trying to keep up with anyone or having to
clean out to make room for the latest round of gifts and purchases.
You are not constantly pursuing new things, but you have learned to appreciate the simplicity
of a few treasured items.
*Closeness to Nature
Stuff is distracting.
It distracts from relationships, peace, and, last, the natural world.
Having a bigger television, more sophisticated video games, new computer software, and other
stuff means you are spending large amounts of time indoors.
If these distractions are minimized, you won’t want to be sitting indoors or you’ll get bored!
Getting outdoors is healthy, invigorating, and fascinating.
You may find yourself forging a deep and meaningful communion with nature that you never
Stress affects our health, and stress can be greatly exacerbated by excessive stuff.
When you achieve the benefits noted above, your health with greatly improve.
Peace, contentment, gratitude, simplicity, and health all go hand in hand.
And then there is the practical health issue– many items, especially certain plastic children’s toys,
can be toxic to our health directly.
Some of those plastics are cause for concern, possibly causing illness and disorders.
The less plastic in your life, the healthier you’ll be.
One of the most compelling arguments against consumerism is that it promotes debt.
Some people regularly go into debt to pay for Christmas presents.
If you scale back your gift-giving and take the time to think about what people would
really like to receive, you will save a significant amount of money.
Think carefully about your own wants and needs before making purchases.
You will also save money by making gifts yourself or employing other creative gift-giving
The drive to have more and more– either for yourself or for giving to others – can set you up for
financial difficulties and even financial ruin.
“The people on your gift list who are
truly worth giving to–the real friends–
would not expect you to go into debt
to give them a big gift.”
*Environmental Impact of Consumerism
Regardless of your reasons for adopting a more frugal and appreciative approach this gift-giving season,
the fact is that excessive gift-giving has a significant environmental impact.
Used items get discarded irresponsibly and end up in landfills.
Emissions are produced when many of these gadgets are manufactured.
And as mentioned above, many items, especially certain plastic children’s toys, can be toxic to our
health and to the environment.
The less plastic in your life, the better.
Raw materials are necessary to produce more and more stuff–often non-renewable raw materials
such as petroleum.
All in all, it all boils down to “less is often more” when it comes to holidays and
Stay tuned for more on this topic…
How do you feel about adopting a more frugal and appreciative approach to gift-giving?
What are you doing to simplify and green your approach to gift giving?
Share your thoughts and suggestions with us.
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