Did you notice? For months before Christmas there were relentless adverts saying "Buy this!" or "30 per cent off!" or, more recently, "Last-minute deals!”
Everywhere these supposedly enticing advertisements shouted at us; from magazines, the television, phones and social media. It seemed that buying stuff and accumulating more was the answer to our troubles and would lead to a perfect Christmas and holidays.
There is rarely a perfect Christmas Day or holiday gift. Our family Christmases were fun but invariably someone didn’t get the present they wanted or the turkey got dropped (we ate it anyway but it caused a scene!).
Thinking there is perfection only leads to disappointment but that is a true reflection of life. A truly amazing life can be perfect as a whole even if it contains imperfect moments.
Perfectionism is a devilish invention, that nagging whisper saying “you should do more,” “be a better parent” or “earn more money.” The antidote to this exhausting thinking is simply gratitude, or thankfulness.
An antidote to consumerism is acceptance of who you are, plus gratitude. Want to know how to start? Before bed, simply write five things you are grateful for each day — it is that easy.
In my book, I dedicate a whole chapter to "Advertising's little secret.” I discuss how adverts make you feel to encourage you to part with cash or swipe the plastic:
“Notice how many adverts are implying, not so subtly, that you are: too fat, too old, too wrinkly, wearing the wrong perfume, under-insured, using an out of date mobile phone or computer... and on and on, the messages continue.”
You are enough without the gadgets. Nothing that you accumulate will change the fact that you are unique and no one else in the world can be you. Accepting who you are is really the ultimate counter to modern life’s crazy “buy this to complete your life” notions.
If you focus on the “don't haves” you will likely never have enough. How about focussing on the gifts you do have? Gratitude is still free. It’s nice to know some things still are!
Surely future generations would far rather we reconnected, re-used, reduced, refused and recycled rather than our modern consumer-driven craziness?
In the next few days many will make resolutions. Popular ones include losing weight and spending more time with the family; but what if we resolved to simply accept ourselves and practice gratitude?
As Epicurus said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Gratitude is the antidote to modern society's bizarrely skewed way of making us think owning more stuff is the answer. What if we just accepted our lives? How would that look for you?
Wishing you a very Happy 2014.
Joanna writes for www.ActualOrganics.com and you can find her book The Radiant Woman's Handbook at Armchair Books.