Have you ever noticed a direct correlation between store sales and insanity? When bold signs in store windows scream advertisements like “50% off!,” “Buy one get one free!,” or “Biggest sale of the year!” people scramble to shopping malls, like such an event only happens once in a lifetime. Where did this kind of frenzy originate? What lures us to buy more stuff? Do you feel it? Feeding our need for more stuff only swallows our bank account and leaves us unsatisfied. The nagging whisper of consumerism blinds us to the abundance we have in America.
I was waiting in a Wal-Mart check out line the day before Thanksgiving. What a mistake. After waiting over in line for half an hour, I had finally made it to the cashier. She was a friendly, middle-aged lady who smiled at grumpy and impatient customers. I began making small talk, and I asked her if she had to work Black Friday, knowing the madness of the annual, American shopping day. She chuckled and told me she volunteered to work. “Why?’ I asked her, baffled why anyone would want to work then. She proceeded to tell me that she enjoys the action; last year a lady punched someone in order to get a third Tickle-Me-Elmo.
I tried to shop on Black Friday once. I went with my mom at 5:00 in the morning and I didn’t even buy anything. She enjoyed the day and bought some gifts; I only ended up in a bad mood with a headache.
I admit, I buy things when I really don’t need them, like buying another pair of shoes when the ones I have spill out of my closet. There’s a gray line in our society where needs and wants collide. Too many times I’ve tried to convince myself that I need that bag or pair of shoes. Do I really need it? Absolutely not. There is great challenge in deciphering what we need and what we want. Yet, we continue to accumulate more stuff and it usually ends up in a landfill, forgotten about, or replaced.
We’ve fallen into the jaws of consumerism and sometimes it gets violent, like innocent people in Wal-Mart getting punched for their Tickle-Me-Elmo. I believe satisfaction doesn’t come from materialism; rather, I believe it comes from a contented mindset, and that mindset is in our control. It’s our choice to think, wonder, and complain. Take a look inside your house, dorm room, office, or refrigerator and you’ll see that as Americans, we have more than enough. The mindset of contentment hinges on our decision to be satisfied. It’s easier said than done. Yes, I know. However the race to keep up with the Jones’ is fueled by two words: get more, and the mindset of contentment rests upon one decision: up to you.
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