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You Better Stop Shopping Around March 21, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Less IS More, Life Balance.
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Enough Already! 

No, I’m not yelling at you . . . that’s the title of a book by Peter Walsh, New York Times Bestselling Author of It’s All Too Much ~ An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff and Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? ~ An Easy Plan for Losing Weight and Living More.

His latest effort, Enough Already! Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You, draws interesting parallels between the clutter in our living spaces, our heads, and on our hips. 

If he’s correct, working to clear clutter in any one of these areas tends to spill over ~ creating positive results in other areas of our lives as well.

Hmm . . . you mean if I clear out the clutter in my living room, I might actually lose weight without dieting? 

Mr. Walsh seems to think so, and provides anecdotal support for his conclusions.

What if I clean out a few closets this afternoon ~ will I be able to think more clearly tomorrow morning when I sit down at my keyboard?

Again, a resounding YES! from the Guru of Clutter Busting.

Interesting . . . but how do I know if he’s right?

By experimenting in your own life, of course.  Try clearing off a few surfaces in your living room and see if you feel calmer and more peaceful.  Clear off the work surface where you write (or pay bills), and see if your creativity explodes forth with greater energy and enthusiasm.

Wait!  What does that have to do with the title of this piece?  Why do I have to stop shopping around?  I love shopping.  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling lonely, or stressed, or angry, or depressed, or . . .

Exactly! 

Just like eating too much (i.e., past the point of satisfying our actual need for fuel) may be a way of avoiding things we don’t want to deal with directly (by stuffing them down in our bellies), shopping too much (i.e., past the point of satisfying our actual needs) is a way to placate ourselves when we are feeling less than stellar about who we are and where we are headed in life.

But don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. 

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to spend, spend, spend ~ to buy symbols of our status in life in order to broadcast our success to others by the size of our homes, the model of car we drive, the number of shoes in our closets, and the designer labels on our clothes.

Exactly!  What’s wrong with that?  I work hard, I’m entitled . . .  

Stop right there. 

You just hit the nail on the head ~ we grew up believing that we deserve to have whatever we want, whenever we want it.  In short, we feel entitled.  But giving in to that sense of entitlement comes with a hefty price-tag.

How so?

OK.  Say you’ve had a hard day at work.

Man, you can say that again.  My job is the pits, but I can’t afford to quit.  I’m too far in debt.  Besides, I’m trying to save up some money to move into a bigger house, because this one is getting too small . . . “

Again, let me stop you right there. 

What do you mean your house is getting too small?

Well, I don’t have enough room for all my stuff.

What if you stopped shopping, paid off your debt, got rid of your excess clutter, and moved to a smaller house ~ would you be able to earn less and still be happy?

I don’t know.  I never thought about it that way.  I’m usually really happy on vacation, even if the hotel room is on the small side.  I guess I don’t need a ton of space to put a smile on my face.

OK. 

Now, let’s go back to that entitlement issue, and the hefty price-tag hanging off it.  Say you’ve had a hard day at work.  What do you do to relax and unwind in the evenings.

Well, I usually stop off on my way home and buy myself something to reward myself for making it through another day. 

Like what?

It depends.  Sometimes I’ll stop at the Mall and buy myself a new outfit, or a new pair of shoes.  Or I’ll just stop at the bakery and pick up something sinful for dessert . . .

Why a new outfit?

Well, I’ve gained a bit of weight over the years, so I’m always on the look out for something that doesn’t make my butt look so big . . .

Well, if you’re worried about your big butt, why would you ever stop at the bakery ~ why not just stop at the gym and work out for a bit?

Well, I don’t usually have a lot of time.  Besides cheesecake is an affordable indulgence that cheers me up.  It makes me feel better about my life. 

Really?  How does it do that?

Well, it tastes good and it doesn’t cost much.

Really?  Are you sure it doesn’t cost much?

Yes, I’m sure.  A Strawberry Cheesecake costs $10 at my favorite bakery ~ I ought to know, I just stopped there last night . . . .

Interesting.  Now, let’s look at the actual price-tag attached to that cheesecake ~ sure, it tastes good, at first.  But then it makes you feel bad, doesn’t it? 

You feel bad that you gave in to temptation.  You feel bad when you look in the mirror because giving in to your sense of entitlement makes your butt look big.  That, in turn, makes you go out shopping for more clothes to use as camouflage for your expanding hips and thighs.  Your expanding girth causes your clothing expenditures to rise, which causes your credit card bills to roll in at an ever-increasing rate which makes you work harder and harder at a job you hate just to pay for things that you didn’t really need in the first place . . .

Enough Already!

Exactly!

No rules.  Just write!

Thought to ponder:  Happiness does not come from a store ~ it comes from more fully appreciating who we are and where we are headed in life.

Related posts:  Clearing Clutter * Want Less Clutter?  Buy Less Stuff * Simplify Your Life * Woman Found Dead Amid Clutter * Why Sex & The City Bombed * Get Rid of Clutter And Lose Weight (AARP)

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Comments»

1. RichardWScott - March 21, 2010

I suspect of “feelings of entitlement” come from two sources.
One, depending upon our age, we may have had parents (or strongly influential grandparents) who survived the Great Depression, coming out the other side into a War economy, and then a huge boom that made the world look wonderful and exciting. Coming from a time when you could have nothing, finding yourself able to have things after all… it must have been amazing.

The other place the feeling of entitlement comes from is advertising. If I can’t be convinced I a) need, or b) DESERVE something, why will I spend my money on it?

The advertisers know just how to manipulate us (me) to build this false sense of need.

2. nrhatch - March 21, 2010

Very true.

The advent of television did much to increase our materialistic wants . . . and did little to satisfy them.

For example, those of us “raised” on Saturday Morning Cartoons learned to crave Cap’n Crunch, Quisp, and Quake, and other “cereals of the moment” ~ driving our parents crazy when we went to the Grocery Store (because they knew that the cereals were all the same on the inside).

As we grew, we were conditioned to believe that we needed not one, not two, but 10 pairs of jeans, 16 sweaters, 22 t-shirts, and 45 pairs of shoes.

And still we weren’t happy.

3. Joanne - March 22, 2010

I have a slightly differrent take on where those feelings of entitlement for some — gratitude for others — may come from… What about having lived — and died — in a WWII Concentration Camp…?

If we are the totality of all our human experiences, we may have come back to fulfill something we lost last time around… We come back with our emotions in tact, but not our memories…

This is why it’s important to examine exactly what type(s) of emotional fulfilment we are getting from these materialistic cravings… Confront the fears that drive this false love and sense of security… Build a new paradigm of truth and guidelines for our lives to reach fulfillment through non-materialistic pleasures… and we all know that the best things in life are FREE… even if we don’t Sit and Sleep on it…!

4. nrhatch - March 22, 2010

The best way to create gratitude for what we already have ~ close your eyes and visualize losing everything all at once.

EVERYTHING.

Then, open your eyes. : )

5. Eesha - June 10, 2010

Loving your post!!
Its all one big vicious circle…

nrhatch - June 10, 2010

It definitely can be.

But even if we’ve got money to burn (think Paris Hilton) ~ we get fewer dividends from shopping than from using the surplus to help others meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

6. jannatwrites - February 8, 2011

Interesting concept, Nancy. I do love bargain shopping – the thrill of paying $4 for a $40 shirt is wonderful, but I ran out of hangers. So, now I’m paring down…and staying out of the stores (online, too.) It’s exciting to think that unloading stuff will get rid of the extra few pounds I’ve acquired. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

nrhatch - February 8, 2011

I do think that life starts flowing more freely when we don’t hold on so tightly.

We see opportunities as they present themselves, and have the energy to take advantage of them.

Maybe it’s as simple as being psyched about cleaning out the closet, so we slap on our sneaks and head out for a brisk walk.


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