Archive | October 2007

9 Tips to Throw Off the Chains of Consumerism

I’ve been reading a blog lately called Zen Habits|Simple Productivity. I enjoy it immensely. It has all sorts of useful tips for simplifying your life and clearing your head. I would highly recommend it! Below is one of the guest posts that was posted on 10/17/2007. I thoroughly enjoy Leo’s posts, but this one struck me as being some rules I’d like to begin following in my life. Please read:

9 Tips to Throw Off the Chains of Consumerism


Photo by fazen

Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Scott Young.

You already have everything you need. Those of us lucky enough to have been born in this time period in the Western world are experiencing an abundance few of our ancestors could have claimed. Food, clean water, shelter, law and order are almost guaranteed.

Why doesn’t it feel this way? Despite this amazing abundance, why are so many people dissatisfied? Are we doomed to always want more than we have, even if it won’t bring us more happiness?

You Can’t Live in a Vacuum
As soon as basic needs are met, your focus immediately shifts onto creating new problems. Even if poverty, exile from the population or violence are remote threats, new problems fill their place. Our cultural obsession with consumption is a by-product of this need to seek out new problems.

The solution is to find something else to fill the vacuum. Instead of mindlessly adopting the quest for material perfection, look at it critically. You don’t need to sell all your worldly belongings and become a monk, but see what other things can fill the space consumption occupies in your mind.

Here are a few suggestions for how to escape the chains of consumerism:

1. Process over Results. Why are you trying to get rich? Is it simply to be wealthy, or is it because the process of making money interests you. When you focus on the process leading to a goal over the results, you can be satisfied regardless of whether you succeed or fail.

2. Eliminate Noise. Simplify your life. Stop spending money on things that add noise and distract you from meaningful aspects of life. Don’t use your paycheck as the determinant of how much you spend. Lifestyle expansion erodes the base it was founded on as buying new things fails to make you more satisfied.

3. Let Go of Dust. Don’t spend your life avoiding risks to protect what you have. If you aren’t able to let go of your possessions then those objects own you. Doing a job you hate to maintain a lifestyle you don’t need is insanity.

4. Relationships and Status Also Enslave. I’m using the theme of material consumption here, but it applies equally to seeking relationships, status or physical perfection. Anytime results dominate over process, it becomes easy to get trapped.

5. Trash Regularly. Regularly go through your belongings and trash the things you aren’t using. Having a high turn-over rate of physical possessions can mean you are buying too many things to begin with, but it is still better than simply racheting up the amount you own.

6. You Aren’t Possessions, Status or Employment. If you view your identity as being your job, social status or material wealth, these things will dominate your life. Defining yourself isn’t an easy task, but these are bad ways to start.

7. Avoid “I’ll Be Happy When…” Don’t view happiness as anything that exists beyond the present. When you start imagining that happiness exists in things outside yourself, you’ll always be at a loss when trying to find it. Focus on the now and processes over results.

8. Be Non-Competitive. Competition drives consumerism. The zero-sum game of who can have the most stuff before you die. Break the urge to compete with other people and you release the trap it puts you in. Competition can be useful as a driving force for improvement and change, but when winning becomes more important than playing you get caught in a trap.

9. Positions are Equal, Process is Not. Once basic needs are fulfilled, most positions are relatively equal given a brief time to adapt. This means you will be just as happy with a $30,000 per year as with $300,000. This seems counter-intuitive, but even new psychological research is beginning to find that positions have less influence on happiness than we believe. The difference is process. Some processes can be interesting, fun, challenging and stimulating and others dull, forced and painful. A focus on process is the best way I know to slide off the chains of consumerism.

Scott Young is a blogger on learning, productivity and habits. You can check out his website here.


Going Green :: Junk Snail Mail

So I’ve decided on a few themes to concentrate on for the next few weeks of posting. The first theme is Going Green – tips, ideas, and strategies for being environmentally mindful. On with the show…

I don’t know a single person that likes junk mail. And for once I’m not talking about the digital kind. I’m talking about the kind that clutters your analog mail-box everyday with coupons, fliers, and catalog’s. I’ve noticed lately the mass quantities of junk mail not only gets delivered to my house, but also to neighbors, friends, and families houses. Did you know that some 4 million tons of paper junk mail gets delivered each year, and almost half of it is never even opened? For this reason and many others I’m sure we’d all like a way to at least reduce the amount of junk mail we get, right? Well look no further.

How to get rid of junk snail mail:
DISCLAIMER: This is not all of the possible steps you could take and I do not guarantee that you will be void of junk snail mail within any particular amount of time, but I can tell you that based on reviews and results, these methods work.

  1. Register your name and address with the Direct Marketers Association (DMA).
    It costs $1 but it’s worth every penny. Think of all the trouble you’re saving.
  2. Opt-out of all those pre-approved credit card offers (OptOut).
    Doing it online asts for 5 year’s, and don’t worry – you can always choose to opt back in should you want to. Choosing their snail mail option will opt you out for life for only the cost of a stamp.
  3. The last resource (and reason I categorize it under the “going green” label) is called Green Dimes. And because it’s so cool I must tell you their slogan… “Our planet-do you give a dime?” For $15 this website will reduce your junk mail by 90% AND plant 10 tree’s on your behalf. Here are a few facts from their website…
    1. 100 million trees are cut down each year to create the approximately 4.5 million tons of junk mail in the United States
    2. 28 billion gallons of water go into the production of American junk mail annually
    3. Your name is typically worth 3- 20 cents each time it is sold for a direct mailing

On average we will spend 8 months of our lives dealing with junk mail, why not take 20 minutes and get rid of it?

More Info:

Aug. 29!!! :: Update

So, I know I’ve been incredibly slack about posting… in fact, I considered canning the blog altogether, but then decided that I actually enjoy posting on here, regardless of readership.

According to Blogger, and far be it for me to say its wrong, I haven’t posted since Aug. 29. I know, AUGUST 29!!! Well, in those couple of months…. life’s happened. I know, you’re surprised, but really… it has. I thought this first post back to blogging that I would mention a few things about what’s been going on in life… and update if you will.

Hmmm…. since August 29 I have continued my adventures in Azeroth and abroad in the multiplayer online phenomenon World of Warcraft, though recently I haven’t played nearly as much as in the past. I have been teaching 2 classes here at the institution in which I am employed, which has been incredibly exciting and stressful, generally speaking. My TV programs have begun to air again, and I’ve picked up a few new shows to watch. Currently I watch: Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Heroes, Private Practice, and Grey’s Anatomy (and on occasion Big Shots). I never really though I watched that much TV, and I suppose in the grand scheme of things I don’t but…

I have found a tool that is quite wonderful for helping in my intense aversion for commercials and attempts to avoid them at all costs. This is actually why I don’t just sit around watching television… I can’t stand commercials, I feel it is a waste of my time and that the television companies (while I understand that commercials pay their bills) take advantage of me by requiring me to sit by the television waiting intently on the next few minutes of Heroes and having to suffer meantime by watching more and more commercials per volume than I had to watch last year. [My English isn’t perfect and that was one hell of a run on sentence but plz don’t correct me]

So back to the tool that helps me avoid the commercials…
If you know anything about downloading with Torrents then you’ll love this application. If you don’t know about torrents, let me know and I’ll be glad to write something that will undoubtedly make you love them. Anyway, this application is called the Torrent Episode Downloader (TED for short). You enter the shows that you watch and it will automatically search Torrent databases for the requested show (every so often, and will even stop looking after it has downloaded that episode for the week if you set it up properly) and download it for you using your default Torrent application (I recommend µtorrent). You can read about and download TED by going here.

More of the update…I’ve started playing a new game, recommended by Syrion, or rather a compilation of games. I bought the Orange Box, which includes Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Portal was fun, I enjoyed playing it and will likely go back and play it again pretty soon. Half-Life 2 is so far so good. I’ve almost finished it (but haven’t started on either episode yet). I’d play Half-Life 2 more but… I’m addicted to Team Fortress 2. It’s actually rather interesting that I find TF2 to be so dang awesome. I say this because ever since the days of Quake and Doom, I haven’t really been into first person shooters (fps) very much. This game though, it’s really the awesomest of awesomeness that could ever be awesome. Now that’s a lot of awesome! I enjoy it so much, and it has very quickly become the easiest way for me to let off Steam (no pun intended) ever since I bought it. Thanks Syrion (or Yam, whatever you prefer to be called)! If you have steam and are also a lover of teh awesome of awesomeness, add me. My username is rainbowCipher.

As for Azeroth, it’ll just have to wait until I quit pwning n00bs in TF2. Besides, I’m waiting on the next patch where lvling 10-60 will be WAY faster and therefore I can level some new characters and possibly get a new perspective on the game. I’m tired of being stressed out about a video game, for once… can’t we all just pwn?