For the past several months, I have been mulling over the outline and content of the next book I’d like to write. The 100 Thing Challenge was enjoyable to do and to write about. I am satisfied with the book and hope that it continues to thrive. My plan, however, has never been to be the 100 Thing Challenge guy for the rest of my life.
Often people who read my book tell me this, “Thanks so much! Personally, I could never get down to 100 things. But I’m going to try to simplify.”
The truth is that the 100 Thing Challenge is not the way in which most people who desire to simplify their lives are going to accomplish their goal. Thus the 100 Thing Challenge can serve as inspiration more often than as model. I don’t have a problem with that, yet I do feel compelled to offer a simple living program that is more accessible.
Over the next several months, through the summer and perhaps into the fall, my intention is to write a number of posts here on the guynameddave side of my blog. These posts will follow the rough outline of The Little Goods Life, the simple-living lifestyle I advocate for everyone, and perhaps the title of my next book.
Thanks for reading and offering your feedback. I truly value your participation in this conversation.
Aspiring Differently – Part 1
Here is my aim. When you finish reading this series of blog posts you will think and act like a contributor. You will no longer reason and behave like a consumer. There is a tremendous need for people like you and me to make this transition: to go from mostly getting to mostly giving. Contributors, not consumers, are what the twenty first century needs.
A person thinking an acting like a contributor is focused on giving. “What can I add to this world?” A person whose identity is wrapped up in consuming is focused on getting. “What can I get out of this world?”
Here in America, there are too many consumers. The average American is doing a lot of getting and not so much giving. But excessive consumption is not a problem only found in the United States. When I was invited to visit Italy to promote my book, The 100 Thing Challenge (in Italian, La Sfida delle 100 Cose), I heard stories from dozens of people who said that excessive consumerism is familiar to Europeans. In the United States, Europe, and increasingly across Asia, consumer indulgence is the norm. This is a global problem. Consumerism is a human problem.
The normalcy of mass consumerism in the lives of millions of people has erected a barrier to everyday living. People feel stuck in stuff. As consumers we buy loads of things, but those possessions do not guarantee contentment. All the things we own often get in the way of us living satisfied lives. The truth is that mass consumerism regularly produces themes of unhappiness in our lives. Financial stress. Emotional and spiritual discontent. Messy houses! Can you relate?
Yet, I want to point out what you will already sense to be true. These feelings of unhappiness are not the most frustrating result of consumerism. Under the right circumstances we can live through the stresses caused by financial hardship, emotional and spiritual strain, and clutter. We can even come out on the other side of these trials better for having gone through them. You and I, just like all people, are resilient. We can grow from these stresses. These then are not the main problem we’re dealing with.
Mass consumerism produces a deeper tragedy than debt, discontent, and debris. This is consumerism’s most grievous affliction: it transforms our deep human longing to do something meaningful into a fickle compulsion to buy things temporal.
To be continued . . .