A life well lived is a life well experienced.
Some people fully understand that, most cannot even fathom life without enough stuff.
Anyone that has ever travelled with eyes wide open, out of cities and into the countryside, hiked in forests and explored mountains, can attest to the transformative powers of inspiring landscapes and a shift in the mentality of people exposed to them.
If you have a plate of donuts on the table, most of us are going to be tempted to take a bite – that sugary, glazed sweetness staring us boldly in the face. Those that can resist the challenge know that they are healthier for it, and they do have their reasons. Cities are just like platters of donuts. They are hosts of everything one could ever want to buy (food, electronics, clothing, toys, accessories, entertainment), available nearly every moment, all the time.
Cities give birth to consumerism! I am not buying that.
Perhaps an expat has an advantage in realizing that a life with less is actually more. Many expats leave families behind, homes, cars, “security”, familiarity – all for work, experience and adventure abroad. Why not embrace a down-sizing or rather experience-rising with an open mind and heart and toss the stereotype of the typical consumer in the trash? Emanate simplicity wherever you are and people are sure to take notice.
We are all consumers when it comes down to basic needs. It is that quantity and quality you buy that defines your spending habits.
To consume is to live, so how do we live well?
When my husband and I first became homesteaders in Hungary nearly seven years ago we sold all of our larger furniture, gave lots of stuff away and packed nearly twenty boxes to be shipped overseas. We settled into our new life and by the time our boxes actually arrived, nearly three months later, we had not had a single moment where we thought “life would be so much easier if we only had _______.” If our belongings had never arrived our lives would not have been any worse for wear.
Our moving with few possessions was not novel by any means, people experience it everyday. In seven years of living simply on our land and living off of the creativity of our minds we have had the chance to observe, from afar, how people are coping with consumerism.
People, tourists included, tend to buy way more than they can afford, thinking that they are doing their business to keep the GDP high and the economy flowing. Money may be good for buying temporary happiness , if you can manage to stay out of the debt trap, but by and large people are slowly starting to come to the realization that true happiness is not found in the acquiring of objects.
Give it a thought and toss the notion of consumerism in the trash. Look into ways to make this world a better place to live – no matter if you live in the States, Argentina or Hungary. Practice the act of zero-waste in your household, recycle, buy less! If you don’t start somewhere, you will never get going.
Get involved in communities, make friends and invite them over for dinner and wine, get out and hike in beech forests, ride a bike in Auvergne, whatever your heart desires.
Start creating memories of places and people. Those are the ‘objects’ that will last a lifetime.
While you are reducing your consumption footprint, try making the shift to an eco-minimalist mindset if it suits your needs. Seek artists and skilled artisans who use ecological materials and clothes makers that handsew organic fabrics. There are few out there, but awareness is growing. When consumers begin to demand quality over quantity then the socially responsible businesses will come.
Once you realize that happiness doesn’t come with much of a muchness, then you can embrace the gentle simplicity of life and feel at home anywhere in the world.
What steps are you taking to reduce consumerism in your household?