Waste not, Want not

June 13, 2017

 

 

 

I heard this "proverb" often growing up.  My family washed plastic cutlery at family events, we didn't throw away food, and as a younger sibling you wore your older sibling's too-small clothes. Waste not, want not (or willful waste makes woeful want) is a proverb that has largely died in our consumer culture; and with it died an appreciation for what we have, and who we are. Of course, actively progressing as a person isn't a negative thing; but too often we are simply trying to acquire more money and... stuff. We even see spiritual movements, such as those basing teachings off The Secret, that teach people how to attract more stuff- just put a picture of a BMV on a vision board, you deserve it!  Now even "spirituality" is supporting materialism by calling it "abundance". We can generally categorize this (usually needless) acquiring of material items as greed; but where does the greed come from? I feel strongly that greed grows in the absence of gratitude; and not just gratitude for material items, but also gratitude for oneself. 

 

Admittingly, I wouldn't be bummed if someone gave me a briefcase full of money. I appreciate the value of money, food, my apartment, food, indoor plumbing, cat food, underwear, food, and having the things I need.  Furthermore, one shouldn't feel guilty about receiving money, trades, gifts, or abundance in general. We need money to survive, and it's not negative to earn/have a lot of it. However, I have gone through some impressively long stints with very little money, and this not only gave me a deeper appreciation for it's value, it proved to me how little of it I actually need. My family raised me to be pragmatic with money, and not to waste things. They reminded me that some people had nothing, and what an insult it would be to those people for us to take our things for granted.  I was taught to share, and to earn anything I wanted.  Moderation was paramount in my family, and frivolity was frowned upon. 

 

It's a boring story; but all these early childhood lessons got distorted in my mind, and for awhile I didn't think I deserved anything. Lucky for me, I was taught to love myself too; and love conquers all, including my mind monster's agenda to convince me I was unworthy.  Once I was convinced I was deserving of abundance...I got a little greedy there for a minute... 

 

In Buddhism, greed is one of the “three mental poisons” along with hatred and delusion and is the cause of all suffering". As long as one is greedy, one can never be satisfied.  Greed is a savage cycle, I know because I've been in it. I ended up in the land of greed because I wasn't satisfied with who I was. We are made to believe that people with fancy cars, fancy houses, fancy purses, and tons of money, are better than us. The wealthy are idolized to a biblical level, and people worship them. Somehow they are above us, and we must sacrifice to keep these false idols happy, lest we suffer their wrath.  It's all part of the savage cycle. 

 

How do we get out? Firstly, we have to change our attitudes about stuff. Stuff is just stuff. Buy stuff at Thrift Stores- reduce, reuse, recycle, and save money. Do we really need all the "hashtag" brands? No. Do brands add value to who we are as a person? No, they just add value to a business owner's bank account. Ask yourself what you actually need, re-use all you can, and have respect for the life cycle of items you acquire. Once we change our attitudes about stuff, our attitude about money naturally starts to change. Secondly, we have to change our attitudes about our own personal value. You are who you are in a blank room, naked, with nothing.  All the stuff and money in the world won't change your value. You are your spirit, your soul, how you treat people, your energy, your actions; and you all alone are worth more than a BMV. Once we stop undervaluing ourselves, we won't feel the need to compensate with...stuff. We hide behind our stuff- what a waste of a perfectly good human.

 

 

Gratitude is so valuable. It promotes happiness, self-worth, self-love, compassion, and contentment. The highs of capital gain can be pretty exhilarating; but I've moved past highs and lows, and now favor the middle ground. The weather in the land of gratitude is far better, and more predictable than in the land of greed. Citizens in the land of gratitude don't have a lot of stuff, and their shoes are likely worn; but they'd give you the shirt of their back. I'd send you an invitation, but you have to decide to come on your own.

 

Question? Comments? Concerns ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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