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And what’s wrong with a little girly lust over a lipstick?

You and I consume; we are consumers. The global economy is set up to enable us to do what we innately want to do—buy, use, discard, and buy some more.

Yes, absolutely buy some more. My latest resolution is trying to live a minimalist life. Seriously, no jokes. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t own stuff. Now, stuff here is very subjective as I’ve realised my decisions to buy were based on several factors and emotions at the time. Although I’ve also come to realise that excessive consumption promises happiness, but never delivers. True life must be found somewhere else and am now in search of that…..Wish me luck!

The greatest challenge I see as consumers is why we keep actively searching the web and our Malls/ Supermarkets in pursuit of something to buy? And honestly, most of the time we aren’t in “need” of anything, like practical work trousers; we are simply trolling for something. Anything. We may be seeking to live a minimalist life, but we are still consumers. After all, to live is to consume.

Consumption is necessary, but excessive consumption is not.

It is time to take a step back and realize that excessive consumption is not delivering on its promise to provide happiness and fulfilment. And life can be better lived (and more enjoyed) by intentionally rejecting it. More importantly the ability to distinguish between a need and a want which is fuelled by desire.

Our Personal credit limits allows us to make purchases beyond our income-level coupled with several marketing advertisements which subtly reshape our desires around material possessions.

To crown it all, keeping up with the consumption culture that surrounds us begins to make excessive consumption appear natural and normal – A desire for more… a desire which is promoted by the world around us which slowly begins to rob us of life consuming our limited resources. Excessive consumption leads to bigger houses, faster cars, trendier clothes, fancier technology, and overfilled drawers and wardrobes. It promises happiness but as usual never delivers.

Consider these practical benefits of escaping excessive consumerism in your life:

1) Less debt. Staying out of debt should be the goal of every consumer. Debt causes stress in our lives and forces us to work jobs that we don’t enjoy to keep up with our lifestyles. ….Truth is, you can do without it!

2) Owning Less. The never-ending need to care for the things we own is draining our time and energy. We are far better off owning less.

3) Less desire to upscale lifestyle norms. The television and the Internet has brought lifestyle envy into our lives at a level never before experienced in human history.  But today’s media age has caused us to envy (and expect) lifestyle norms well beyond our incomes by promoting the lifestyles based on brand proposition which are superior and enviable. Fulfilment is not on sale at our local stores—neither is happiness. It never has been. And never will be. We all know this to be true. We all know that more things won’t make us happier. It’s just that we’ve bought into the subtle message of millions upon millions of advertisements that have told us otherwise.

Hence, my new simple rule: Fewer things, more peace. The less we have, the less overwhelmed we feel. And the less overwhelmed we feel, the happier we are.

The grey area between these two is when the desire to obtain a particular thing is so extremely great, that a person may misinterpret a want, and see it more as a need. In order to know whether what you desire for is a want or a need is to basically ask one fundamental question: “Have you been able to survive without it?” If your answer is ‘yes’, then what you desire for is a want, no matter how much you crave for it right now.

By: Tola Elatuyi

Email : alottola@gmail.com