LIFE BEYOND CONSUMPTION
Our love of consuming
Being a consumer of life is the natural way of living for most people. We love shopping and get excited when we have a package waiting for us at our front door. We look forward to going to our favorite restaurants in order to eat and drink all of things that we enjoy. We can’t wait to watch or read that new movie or book we’ve been waiting for to come out. Scrolling our preferred social media apps to see what’s going on with our friends or in the world around us in one of our most preferred activities. We are nearly constantly taking something in. Whether that something is food, information, or tangible objects, we tend to like the feeling of things coming in. In fact for many people this is how they relax. In contrast, when it seems like life wants or demands something from us, even if we are the one creating that want or demand, we feel tense, vigilant or like we need to perform or show up in some extra alert way. Sometimes just thinking about what we will have to give makes us tired.
In a lot of ways consuming is easier. We just sit back and let life in. It doesn’t require any real effort on our part, except for perhaps deciding if we want to buy the shoes we like in brown or black, or choosing if we want to go with the fish or steak dinner at our favorite restaurant. It’s low demand, not that complicated and in the end we feel some kind of satiation. Our new outfit arrives, we get loaded up on information from our new book, or we get the latest news about our “friends” on social media, and we feel full. Why does getting full feel so good? It feels good because most people operate from a belief in scarcity and therefore any attempt to give feels like fuller depletion. At least when they get they can momentarily not feel lack.
Yes there is the obvious fact that we need to food to survive, albeit much less than most of us would like to think we need. We also need clothes, but probably not near as many as we buy. Information is helpful to make informed decisions about things we don’t know about it, but many of us are addicted to consuming information without taking any real action on the things we learn. Social media can provide us with some sense of connection with others, but most people are just mindlessly scrolling to see if they are missing out on anything. While most people probably wouldn’t fully admit it, they just want life to happen to them without them having to do much work. This means that rather than creating we would prefer it be given to or have things done for us. An example of this would be if someone gave you the option to either work your way to $1 million dollars or be given $1 million dollars, nearly everyone would opt for the later. Case in point, most of us would prefer to receive support and care rather than give it.
WORKING, CREATING & GIVING
Stopping the consumption cycle
Giving is work. It does require something from us, namely our time, energy, and focus, which are, our most precious of resources. Because they are our most precious resources, we tend to want to conserve them, not use them up or give them away too readily less we run out of them. But what are we really saving them for? Do we think that if we don’t use them then we can store them up? Are we afraid if we give our attention to one thing then we won’t have the energy, time or focus to give to another thing? Perhaps you are ambivalent about what we want to give too. Maybe you have difficulty making a decision about what is important to you. Perhaps you just feel like you don’t have enough time, energy or focus and are living in scarcity about your state of inner resourcefulness. We are always plotting in our mind what we think we have the inner resources for and therefore how willing we are to show up to life. I am not denying that rest is important, it is, however most of us are way underestimating and underutilizing our capacities. Why? Because we think our inner resources are going to run out.
I could tell you that there is no such thing as time, that it is simply a made up construct, but it’s likely that you will keep operating as if there is time. I could tell you that you are the source of energy itself, but you will probably continue to feel like you don’t have enough of it. I could tell you that you’ve got nothing but focus, yet you will claim that you get easily distracted. These ways of thinking and believing are just habit. In some ways you know that timelessness, infinite energy and inexhaustible focus are true, yet they aren’t true for your experience of life, at least not yet. If you really embodied that there is a surplus of energy, no time and that you could focus on whatever you wanted to for however long you wanted too, what wouldn’t you do? I imagine that your relationship to work, giving and creating would be mighty different. I would think you would stop living by the clock in your head, your stories of limited energy and your distractible focus.
Consuming is not the only way to live. It’s not negative to consume. We all need to consume some. We need food, rest, nourishment, information, education, and social connection. However when we are coming from scarcity of our inner resources of time, energy, and focus, with the fear that they might run out, then our consumption levels increase. Sometimes to the point where we never feel satiated no matter how much we take in. To remedy this we need to clearly know when we are full and stop consuming. At that point rather than taking in more we need to switch to giving through work or creation. That is the natural cycle of giving and receiving.
Some people might say that they don’t know when they are full because they have overridden their fullness levels for so long. If that is you I recommend this, when it stops feeling good and begins to feel bad, or like an addiction or obsession, or you find yourself becoming less present or more checked out, you know you’ve reached the fullness point. So rather than watching another movie, reading another book, eating another piece of chocolate, having another drink or scrolling another social media app, stop in that moment and find a way to give, work or create instead. This is when you move beyond a life of consumption. The secret is that this is where energy, focus and timelessness live. Never again will you fear them running out because you are living inside of them.
Dr. Amanda Love, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado