In a previous article, Spring Cleaning: Discarder’s Remorse, I discuss my goal of reducing the materials or “stuff” that in my life for greater inner peace of mind. This culture of materialism is one that has been on my mind more lately, specifically on how it adds to our feelings of sadness, anxiety, self-loathing, emptiness, and more severely Depression.
In his blog article titled Living in an Age of Melancholy: When Society Becomes Depressed–
This sounds like a daunting task, but there are ways that we can each reduce the effects our culture continues to have.we can no longer afford to view depression solely as a problem of the person. To end the worldwide epidemic of depression, we must combine individual psychological therapies with new social and economic systems that respect the earth and more fairly distribute the worlds resources.
Having a blog about social issues you are passionate about is a great way to spread the word about your ideas. This brings together a community of other like-minded people and it’s an excellent platform to share ideas for implementing change.
Donate & Volunteer
Where you choose to spend your time indicates what you value most. Your most important currency is time and choosing to spend it for a cause your believe in that involves helping others is an excellent way to reject a culture focused on materials.
Evaluate the stuff you have in your life
Take a look at your closet. Do you find that you have 10 or more different pairs of shoes, pants, shirts, towels…? Is it necessary to have an excess of materials for you to live? I’m not saying you need to have one pant and one shirt or become a monk. I am saying that sometimes we get so wrapped up in buying more to keep up an image that we forget what’s important in life. Do those “things” really make you happy or are you trying to fill a hole in your heart? Many people enjoy “retail therapy” but never address the real problem they are covering. You owe it to yourself to spend the time and do the emotional work of discovering what needs to change in your life. You don’t have to do this alone as there are counselors that can guide you through the process.
Shop from companies with pro-social values
It’s sad to learn that your favorite company employs poor citizens of a foreign country to sell their products to you at a premium. As consumers we have the power to force change on these companies, we just have to put our money where our values are.
Resist traditions focused on consumerism (ex. Black Friday)
Why not spend the time with family or start a new tradition and donate food at a food pantry?
Join local groups to start change
Websites like Meetup have groups focused on political ideas and social justice. They schedule regular meetings or events where you can take part and meet other people interested in same things you are
Create a local group to create change if one doesn’t already exist
Creating and running a group on a site like Meetup does have a cost, you can recover this by asking for donations from members or even adding a membership fee to cover annual costs. Meetup.com is not the only platform you can use to create a group. You can create a website solely dedicated to your cause using WordPress which is free.
Travel to impoverished countries
I believe traveling is a form of education. You experience new cultures and ways of life that are different from your own. By traveling you gain knowledge of the struggles that exist in the world.
It isn’t easy, but taking small steps in your life not only influences those around you but it also increases the positivity in your life. Feeling good about what you’re doing also impacts your self-esteem and view of your place in the world.