Memento Mori – Remember that you must die.
In truth, you can’t lose anything.
Because you never really possess anything.
One day you’re going to die.
You’ll leave this world and all the stuff in it.
Anything you think you own is, in reality, only temporarily yours to experience.
Our belief that you can “own” things is pretty strange if you take the time to honestly think about it. It doesn’t fit into the natural order of life on this planet. But most of us have been indoctrinated into thinking it’s normal and you can and should absolutely own stuff. The more the better. The more expensive the better. Our culture supports this and our civilization relies on this belief. Unfortunately, there are considerable negative consequences to living in this manner.
I’ve done a fair bit of thinking about my relationship with stuff. My thoughts on consumption have changed. I’ve developed my ideas about consumerist culture, the way it ties into the economy, and how the human world manages itself.
Here are some ideas:
- Our only true possessions are our actions.
- The necessities of life are few. Most of what people spend time striving after or acquiring is needless.
- Consumption has real, measurable consequences to the health of the environment.
- The stuff you own ends up owning you.
- You give up your time and place limits on your relationships with humans and life in general as a result of chasing consumerism.
- Practicing minimalism is an act of revolt against the culture of consumption, the corruption of government and corporations.
- You are not your stuff. You are not your clothing, your cosmetics, your hairstyle, your car, your house, your furnishings, etc, etc, etc.
- Being conscious of consumption takes effort.
- You make yourself rich by making your wants few.
- Living more in alignment with nature is a beautiful thing. It will improve your health and well-being. These are priceless.
- Consumption should be in alignment with your values. Some things are essential…such as health, learning and experiences, nutrient-rich food, clean water, clean air, and a healthy environment. Spend your energy in these areas and reap the benefits.
These are terms for what I’ve been implementing in my life:
- Minimalism (less consumption and owning less stuff to make room for what is truly important to me….freedom to do as I choose)
- Voluntary Simplicity (strategically ordering my life so as to limit complexity which seems to add stress and/or take my time away from where I want it to go)
- Essentialism (Knowing what is truly important and focusing my attention there….getting rid of anything that distracts from that)
- Stoicism (THINKING – developing my rational, logical mind so I can live more harmoniously, avoid anxiety and drama, and practice virtue)
Doing so has helped me to:
- Save money and time.
- Increase my freedom….liberate myself from the pursuit of an insane lifestyle that seems to be mostly about money and ownership of stuff.
- Become fitter in my thoughts, emotions, actions, and physical being. Instead of feeling helpless about the big problems of the world, I focus on working on myself. I try to consider problems and challenges rationally and make my decisions accordingly.
- Not let my emotions control me.
- Be more resilient.
- Realize that I’m deeply critical of the world and the behavior of humanity. I do carry anger and frustration for the injustice I witness and experience. But I’m also more accepting of things being as they are.
- Know that light and dark are part of the same thing and one can’t exist without the other. Both are necessary.
- Know that I am able enough to face whatever I must and to live with integrity and dignity.
- Use negative feelings to feed my will to overcome and do what I can to change circumstances for the better.
- Know that struggles can be used to gain strength and wisdom.
- Develop a practice of gratitude. It’s so important to not get fixated on the darkness and forget to acknowledge the wonderful things, the beauty, and the enchantment of being and having a life.
I’m not perfect. I’m no zen, Jedi master messiah of life. But I’ve made positive and lasting changes. I love having this chance to be alive and able to explore my potential.