Off The Shelf

So what are the effects of over-consumption for many years? The more you have the more you want, which of course leads to unhappiness and insecurity often initiated in the quest for wealth. I recently read a study on this. It mainly dealt with kids, in these three studies with adolescents, they showed that those with aspirations for wealth and fame were more depressed and had lower self-esteem than peers whose aspirations centered on self-acceptance, family and friends, and community feeling.

“The wealth seekers also had a higher incidence of headaches, stomach-aches and runny noses, people with extrinsic goals sharpen their egos to conquer the “outer space’ around them, but they don’t have a clue how to navigate inner space.”

Too Much Stuff evidently will kill you.

We lose control of our own lives when we surrender long-term wealth (like the natural systems that support us and literally ground us) in exchange for short-term bargains (like cheap socks and burgers). Certainly, it can’t be denied that as a percentage of income, we have the cheapest (and fastest) food in the world. But we also have the most expensive health care.

What’s the connection?

The painful truth is it’s very expensive to treat a feverish lifestyle that tears up the environment, creates chronic stress, and invents strange new forms of food! Many MD’s, psychologists, sociologists, ecologists and writers believe we’re battling a burgeoning epidemic of too much stuff, which can be defined as “a painful, contagious, virally transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”

Because of our culture’s frantic, conveyor-belt consumption, we spend more for garbage bags than 90 of the world’s countries spend for everything! (it’s normal for us to buy a wastebasket and carry it home in a plastic bag, then take the basket out of the bag, and put the bag in the basket.) Seventy percent of Americans visit malls each week, more than attend houses of worship.

Each year more than a million Americans file for personal bankruptcy – more than graduate from college. We spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($80 billion) than on higher education ($65 billion). We can do so much better, if we redistribute our wealth!

Many people think our battle against too much stuff will require us to “give up” the good life, but others assert that we’re already giving up the good life by sacrificing personal health and sanity, family closeness, and ecological stability in exchange for electronic gadgets, fantasy vacations, cheap gasoline and Victoria‘s secret underwear. What we need to let go of is the “goods” life.

Here’s the dilemma: We’ve programmed our economy for surplus rather than sufficiency. We produce more than we need. One of the greatest underlying stresses we’re feeling is “How can we possibly consume all this stuff?” But every time that thought crosses our minds, a mental game-show buzzer sounds and the program takes over, instructing us to “keep eating.”

The truth is, maybe we just can’t eat anymore.

Well, I would like to stay and chat some but like I said, “I need to get to my lawnmower that is tucked wayyyyyyyyyyyy back in a corner of the garage, buried under all our stuff.”

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