Friday, June 22, 2012

To Live Better


A television add for one of the local shopping centers recently featured the slogan

Buy MORE!
Live BETTER! 

It's a great slogan built solidly on the foundation that enough is good, more is better, and too much is just about right. After all, we live in the land of Sam's Club, the Walmart Super Center and Mall of the Americas where getting more is a sport and shopping has attained the entertainment value of a trip to Vegas. Who can resist the idea that more of this, that, or the other will make us happier?

So, we buy more and more until our closets, our basements, our garages, and our dwelling places are packed and we have long since lost track of exactly what we have. At this point, we go out and rent storage so we can pack away even more stuff, and then go out and acquire even more. Is this not madness?

Lacking cash, we eagerly slap down plastic to get what we want RIGHT NOW.  Or we sign a paper, and pledge future earnings to obtain something NOW.  We willingly trade future freedom for debt and debt for immediate stuff until debt has absorbed our freedom and we can no longer acquire more debt or more stuff.  Is this too not madness?

The problem with dancing all night always comes when it's time to pay the piper.  The problem with buying more to live better is that sooner or later the bills must be paid. 

I have reached that season of life where more stuff and new stuff have become increasingly less important.  I'm discovering that stuff that was useful once now sits in the back basement, out of sight and out of mind. I'm discovering too many almost "new" items packed away in same the boxes in which they came from the factory, used once or twice and then set aside, their purchase price a tax on my own stupidity.  If I don't look at it or use it, why have it?

After the greater part of a lifetime, I'm discovering that stuff is not what makes me happy and that buying more to live better is a lie.  I'm discovering that buying and having less gives me more -- more money, more space, more time, more freedom, and more enjoyment of what I have.

Living better can't be bought, but must be earned.  Really living better is not about stuff, but about people and relationships.

I can't buy friendship, but more and closer and better friends make my life better.

I can't buy cheerfulness and good will, but I can practice having more of both, and that practice makes my life better.

I can't buy a positive attitude, but I can practice being positive, and live better because of it.

Life is not about the stuff I can buy. Life is about things and qualities that can never be bought, but must be planted, cultivated, and grown.

What do you have that you don't use?

What do you really need in order to live better?

Is it something you can buy, or must it be cultivated?