For many years we have all heard about the threat of peak oil, energy security, climate change and pollution.

These global problems are just symptoms of a larger, overshadowing problem and all the symptoms can be solved with one solution.

The Overshadowing Problem:  Materialism and Conspicuous Consumption in America

We have become obsessed with lavish spending on goods and services acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying wealth and status. But material things do not bring anyone happiness in the long run. We should rediscover that happiness doesn’t come from what you own, but what you do.

The Solution: Minimalism

Not to the extreme meaning of the word, just living within your means. Create a lifestyle that brings you happiness and purpose. Maintain a life where satisfaction and success are measured by the things you do, not what you own. Between the combination of credit cards, conspicuous consumption and the accessibility of home loans, we have created the idea that happiness and success come from material things. But the truth is, it doesn’t.

Think about all the things we buy that give us instant satisfaction, but these things do not contribute to our happiness in the long run.

Former president Jimmy Carter once said during his ‘Crisis of Confidence’ speech in 1979, “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns.”

Effects of Minimalism:

  • Energy and Resource Conservation. If we only demand and buy goods that improve our standard of living and quality of life, less energy and resources will be used in the production process. If we bought what we needed and not what we wanted, energy would be conserved. This would have a huge impact on the energy crisis, energy security and climate change. Resource conservation can directly reduce deforestation and depletion of natural resources.
  • Address Climate Change. With less energy and resources used in the production of goods, carbon emissions will decrease.
  • Switch from Manufacturing to Services. Some might suggest that with less manufacturing, jobs will be lost. I propose that jobs in manufacturing switch to the service and technology industries. Yes, people in manufacturing will loose their jobs, but training programs and placement should be provided in the switch to technology and service industries. Economists call this restructuring of the economy creative destruction. Restructuring of the economy will occur and the economy will be stronger and robust in the long run. Careers will be created to solve today’s problems and discover innovative solutions. These workers will be extremely valuable and will provide a new wave of indispensable workers in America.
  • Waste Reduction. If we consume what we need instead of what we want, fewer goods will be produced and ultimately less waste will be produced. We can significantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, water bodies and the environment.

Why should you care?

Be part of the solution, not the problem. Think about your lifestyle and what makes you happy.

Is it material things or spending time with family and helping others?

What are you contributing to your neighborhood, city, nation and world?

My Advice:

  • Do what makes you happy. Volunteer, cook with your family, write a book, start a blog.
  • Consume what you need, not what you want. Buy things that improve the quality of your life, not just instant satisfaction from material things.
  • Have a purpose. Create a life that helps others, the environment and reap the benefits of happiness and satisfaction throughout your life.
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