Much about our spending can be reflected in the way we eat chocolate.
One of the five essentials for a resilient world is to “Revamp Our Spending.”
We at The Resilient Activist believe that part of both self-care and eco-regeneration is to shift what we as a culture value so we can live more happily and sustainably. How we spend our time and our talent and our money is up there with voting for determining the direction of our society.
How we earn and spend is powerful. It is one of our paths to disrupt the status quo and change our course.
How do we revamp our spending?
If we only do one thing, let’s practice more gratitude for what we already have and what we are already doing. Many of us never question the chase for more resources that allow us to consume more of what we are already over-consuming.
When we practice gratitude, we notice what really gives us joy and we enjoy it more.
We let go of the chase, which tends to feel like an anxious urgency and see instead the gifts that are already here, within ourselves, in each other, and all around us. Being thankful and appreciative, purposely and regularly, brings us more joy with less consumption.
Make It a Treat
There are two ways that we can make how we spend our time and money a treat.
One is to have experiences that come at a cost less often, and the other is to turn our attention to simpler pleasures that are otherwise taken for granted. Both ways are different twists on “less is more.”
Truly, sometimes less is better.
We have trouble appreciating the truth in that because we have a natural drive to consume and acquire and stockpile. It makes sense, evolutionarily, to take advantage of times of plenty to prepare for times of scarcity. Food and shelter and travel and information and productivity are all things that we need, but over time in our culture, we have gotten really good at megadosing certain aspects at great cost to ourselves and to our planet. Through advertising and mass-production and innovation, we have increased the payoffs to our natural drives — beyond what our biology was built for.
Thus, we repeatedly shoot right past enough, and on to excess.
While it’s important to recognize our potential for too much of a good thing, it’s even more important to appreciate our capacity to make different choices.
As always when I think about change, I believe it has to start with a growth mindset. We must believe in our ability to improve with wise effort. The growth mindset enables us to take on the challenge, envision a different future, and put in the necessary effort to make progress.
We must step away from the notion that there is nothing we can do. Not only can we make a difference in the world, we can also do it in a way that is deeply beneficial to ourselves.
It takes a concerted effort in multiple areas.
For one, we can opt-out of the marketing messages and social media that convince us that it’s never enough. After that, for some consumables, we can pace ourselves. For example, if we are able to derive much more pleasure from our first bite of chocolate than we can from our tenth, maybe we can find more joy with less chocolate. Fewer bites, less often, actually means more first bites.
For this to work as intended, however, it is so important to approach it as a way to make it a treat and get more joy, rather than deprivation which would only reinforce our fears of scarcity.
Savor and appreciate the treat, then take a break, and see both as self-care.
This slows down our demand for more, more, more — giving us the space to redirect our spending toward what we want most, enjoying contentment and fulfillment along the way. As we do that, we will be weaning ourselves off of consumables and time-sinks that exploit our natural drives by recognizing them for what they are and replacing them with more intentional endeavors.
Back to the original question: How, in a practical sense, do we revamp our spending?
Well, it isn’t a quick fix or a one-time thing; it’s a process. We tune into our real experience so we can discern when enjoyment starts to give way to unpleasant overeating or clutter or waste, and we adjust accordingly. Paying attention like that isn’t particularly easy, so we can build the skill by practicing mindfulness. We also take the time to tune into our highest values, which then informs our enjoyment — meaning: we get a deeper fulfillment when we recognize that something is supporting our highest values, and we lose interest in the things that we notice actually kind of stink in the bigger picture. We notice when less (or none, or altogether different) is more.
We revamp our spending bit by bit, by paying attention and making course corrections as we go.