The joy of spending

As human beings, we design our own spiritual practices. And so, as human beings, it’s important that we continue to look back and reevaluate our spiritual practices, as the world continues to change and we enter new stages of our lives. 

Particularly at this time, more than ever, we should begin to make purchasing a more spiritual practice. This means being more mindful about our purchases and treating them instead as mindful investments.

I remember watching a TED talk by Buddhist teacher Michael Stone where he explained the idea of how we need to find a deeper love for materials. While people always say that we have become too materialistic, maybe instead we are actually not materialistic enough. Rather than focusing on how we love the physical materials, what we can improve on is how we view these materials and connect with them on a deeper level. Humans need to establish a new operating system, and lucky for us, we are the designers of our own behaviours and systems.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying that it’s a bad thing to make purchases on objects and materials, but what we should be doing is paying more attention to these purchases on a deeper level.

How will this purchase benefit my life?

Will it make a greater impact?

Is it a smart investment?

If we are giving attention to an object that’s right in front of us, we should also give attention to the other ‘objects’ that surround us – like the trees, footpath, lakes and buildings that make up our day-to-day lives. A great example that Stone points out is the impact of farmers’ markets these days. We go to these markets to purchase groceries, while they are in fact connected to something much bigger and deeper. This act of deeper materialism at a farmers’ market makes an intimate connection with the farmers in the field, the community supporting the farmers and the urban world supporting the rural. And this is just from purchasing some carrots.

Deeper materialism can also be shown in the experiences we choose to invest in. Experiential purchases are more satisfying because they provide longer periods of happiness. Especially when purchasing an experience for yourself. There’s the excitement when you’re deciding what to buy, the anticipation leading up to it, the experience itself and then the memories or gains that you are left with. When deciding to invest in an experience, event or course, it’s less about the purchase and more about what you’ll get out of it in the end. Beyond the delight it will  give you, does the experience bring TRUE meaning to your life?

So as you go out into the world, try to really give attention to what’s in front of you instead of just browsing. We can appreciate the material objects around us and their ability to make us feel happy, if we are also appreciating the other objects that are a part of our lives. Technology and gadgets can belong in the same category of thinking as the rivers and the trees. We are all made of each other and can love what other people are producing and offering us.

Let me know in the comments below where you found meaningful spending this year!

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