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    Striving For Stuff: The Stress of Over Acquiring

    keeping-up-jonesesThe Rat Race is so named for good reason. Modern life can put us on a fast track to nowhere, if we let it. We work harder, faster, and longer hours…so we can buy stuff to make us feel better for working so long and hard. And we wonder why we’re always dealing with stress.
    Of course, there is nothing wrong with hard work. It helps us build our dreams. But what if the dream is someone else’s? Or we believe the illusion that happiness comes from the possessions we can show off?

    We are not what we own.
    And we will not become better people by having more of it. If we sink into debt to purchase a better self image, we just find ourselves dealing with double stress…the burden of financial worry, and guilt from the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

    Accept yourself as you are.
    When you meet new people, what is it that makes you like them? Are they friendly, and interesting, fun and sincere? If you enjoy their company do you really care what clothes they wear or car they drive? Or do you simply like them for who they are?
    Chances are, deep down, you want people to like you for who you are, as well. But often we fear we don’t measure up. We think we are not thin enough, smart enough, rich enough, or just not cool.
    Cut yourself some slack. Look beyond status or hype, and accept yourself for who you are inside. Wherever you are in your life’s journey, it’s okay.

    Living simply does not mean deprivation.
    Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that as soon as you start, all you can think about is food. When we believe we have been denied something, we fixate on it, and stress ourselves out trying to get it.
    Yet when we’ve striven hard to buy something, does the pleasure of it disappear, as soon as we see the next “must have?” And to make it worse, we may still be paying for whatever it was, with interest.
    Consciously acknowledging that you don’t need something, or that you can decide later, puts the power back in your hands. Later the thing you wanted may not even interest you.

    Allow yourself the freedom to choose what you really need and want, and enjoy the peace that comes from letting go of the rest.
    Striving is a lot like strife. Striving for a goal, or striving to improve ourselves or our situation, can lead to excellence. But constant striving, merely for status, means dealing with constant stress. No matter what we buy, it will never be enough.

    In the satiric film The Joneses, a fake “perfect family” moves into a suburb, for the sole purpose of creating envy for their lifestyle, so their neighbors will buy even more. The hero has to choose. Would he deceive or walk away?
    We can choose not to deceive ourselves, and walk away from the stress of endless buying. The freedom is definitely worth it.

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