On Sunday, as a benefit for Wonderfully Made, we hosted the Santa Barbara premiere of Bethany Hamilton’s new documentary, “Unstoppable.” This event has been several years in the making so I was a dream come to true to see it become a reality. Thank you Santa Barbara and friends for packing the theatre full and it has been so cool to hear how many of you have been personally touched the the event and film. I loved watching Kathy Ireland gracefully interview Bethany. We made a modest profit which will help our ministry continue to create more life-changing resources such as conferences, films, podcasts, resources and other events.
Like many of you, I have an Amazon Prime account. My heart seems to skip a beat when my doorbell rings, dropping off another brown box. I find satisfaction in my constant consumerism and perhaps you do, too, but I also experience frustration. As my condo and especially my closet get more cluttered, the more frustrated and anxious I become. I’ve discovered the satisfaction I get from buying shiny, new things is fleeting and oftentimes, disappointing.
So, this year, my new motto is consume less and create more. I’ve set a stricter budget, am writing a book, taking a painting class and yes, even bought a grown-up coloring book.
We all are consumers: of food, movies, clothes, jewelry, make-up, gas, technology, music, and TV. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, we all have needs and we must consume in order to meet them, but over-consumption can become an unhealthy obsession if we’re not careful.
Marketers excel at their job of convincing us we need more possessions. And if you’re like me, you often fall for their tricks. We’ve been conditioned to believe the lie that the more we consume, the happier, more beautiful, more desirable we’ll become. The truth is, when we consume too much we can experience anxiety, stress and sadness, which makes our void even deeper, creating a vicious cycle.
A life of over-consumption is self-centered; it takes more than it gives. A life of contribution is an outward-focused life; it creates more than it takes. I believe we have been wired to contribute more than we consume.
A life of contribution is an outward-focused life; it creates more than it takes.
While it’s okay and necessary to be a consumer, we have also been made to create. We’ve been designed to create ideas, art, music, poetry, crafts, movements and companies. Our materialistic culture convinces that we need to consume, while what we really need is to create. I believe each of us have an innate desire to create or to add value to the world around us. So we are all creators of some kind – some of us with words, others with art, some with clothing or food.
Here’s the thing: In the end I believe our life will be characterized by contribution or consumerism, by one or the other, but not by both.
If you feel worn out from the barrage of messages urging you to consume more, I encourage you to take a step back and mindfully entertain the possibility of living a simpler and more creative life. If you’re up for the journey here are some tips:
Be a creator first and a consumer second.
Try a new ratio – try to create more than you consume. Cook more food and eat out less. Brew your own coffee rather than visiting a coffee shop everyday. Focus on refining your wardrobe rather than growing it. Often it’s our boredom that leads us to shop or consume things we don’t really need. Focus on spending that energy elsewhere.
Keep your eye out for talented creators — for conscious clothing designers, poets, painters and authors. Invest in their work. By doing so you are supporting the arts, craftsmanship and people who are positively contributing to our society. Attend a homespun market or check out Etsy.
Here’s the thing: In the end I believe our life will be characterized by contribution or consumerism, by one or the other, but not by both.
Be a conscious consumer.
Before you buy something, take the time to learn where and how it was made. Shop ethically as often as you can.
Instead of collecting things, create experiences.
According to research, we’ll be happier and experience more satisfaction if we spend our money on experiences, rather than things. So instead of buying another pair of yoga pants, sign up for a 5 or 10K with a friend. You’ll create a memory and deepen a relationship.
Are you living a life primarily characterized by consumerism or contribution? How can you consume less and create more?
Call me shallow, but one of my most vivid prayers as a little girl was for L.A. Gear shoes and pierced ears. Yes, in case you’re wondering, I got my way. To this day I still struggle with buying into our culture of over-consumerism. Even if I don’t act upon my purchasing compulsions, you better believe that I waste hours window-shopping, perusing fashion blogs and coveting pretty things I think will bring me peace and perfection, and yet I somehow barely mange to throw a decent outfit together. Consumerism is a social and economic order, which spurs on and fosters our desire or compulsion as potential buyers to purchase goods and services in increasingly greater amounts.
As I was exploring our culture of over-consumerism, I came across an idea that eloquently articulated something I’ve witnessed in my life, in Confessions of a Shopaholic, in the lives of most Americans (especially us ladies) and of course, filthy rich celebrities. According to our friend Wikipedia, “Enoughism” is the idea that there is a point where consumers (that’s us girls) possess everything they need, and buying more makes their lives worse rather than better.
There comes point when just one too many yoga pants, Free People tops, H&M accessories, Forever 21 finds, and BCBG dresses are going to make our lives worse instead of better – they’ll make life more complicated and stressful instead of peaceful and perfect like we think they will.
Why do we believe the lie that more cute stuff equals perfection, love and happiness ever after?
Let’s be girls who create and give more than we consume, covet or get. Deep down, there’s a void. More stuff isn’t going to fill it. One way I’ve learned to satisfy my hunger for beautiful things while playing a part of a bigger story is to buy socially conscious goods from companies such as Raven + Lily, The Giving Keys, 31 Bits, Sseko Designs, Krochet Kids and many others.
Do you struggle with the trap of over-consumption? What do you covet most and feel like you can never have enough of? Do you ever think, “If I have [fill in the blank], then I will be content, satisfied and complete?
We all know that romantic relationships can come to end, but what about friendships? As we grow older and more distant from friends we used to hold dear, is it possible to end friendships in a healthy way? Life transitions such as moves, school, career changes, new relationships, and shifts in personal values and world-views are just a few of the things that can drive a wedge between friends.
All of these shifts are natural and even to be expected, however, knowing when we should fight to preserve a friendship and when it might be best to part ways can be difficult.
Here are some tips to help you navigate the ever-changing dynamics of friendships:
Assess The Friendship
Ask yourself if this relationship is bringing you peace and joy, or if it is sucking the life out of you. Is it healthy or toxic? Take an honest account of the relationship and write a list of positives and negatives. Talk to a mentor and seek counsel. There are usually two main ways the dismantling of close friendship occurs – by naturally fizzling out, known as losing touch, or by a friendship break due to conflict.
Friendship Sabbatical vs. Friendship Breakup
Unlike romantic relationships, which often end on bad terms and where both parties rarely end up being friends, close platonic relationships have more potential to end amiably if done well. Instead of ending a friendship abruptly, give it space to breathe. Recognize that you and your friend are likely in different seasons of life or headed in different directions, and that is okay. You never know when your close friendship may rekindle.
Keep In Touch
Be grateful for this person’s presence in your life and do what you can to let them know you still think about and care for them. Send birthday cards; write the occasional email; “like” their photos and posts and aim for a yearly date. Drifting apart is often in response to geography and big life transitions such as college, marriage and having kids. If this is a friendship you still want to invest in, do your part to keep it alive.
… we are only wired for so many close, intimate relationships at any one time.
Know Your Limits
Anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar came up with different numbers of people that an average human could associate with at a time. The smallest group is five people — which is your close support group consisting of friends and often, family members. From there, the next group up is the circle of fifteen — friends you can confide in about most things and turn to sympathy for. Next is fifty, and then one hundred fifty — the individuals you’d invite to a large party and the maximum number of people Dunbar believed you could have meaningful relationships with. As the number goes up, the intimacy level decreases. This is important to note because we are only wired for so many close, intimate relationships at any one time. Friendships are often cyclical and sometimes even seasonal. Be realistic and gentle with yourself; yet be faithful in the friendships before you.
Jim Rohn, motivational speaker said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Be intentional with who you let in your inner circle because they are the people who will shape you the most. If a friendship is no longer healthy, give yourself permission to let it go, but do so with great gentleness, compassion and care. Always aim for a friendship sabbatical rather than a breakup, give your best effort to keep in touch with friends you care about and know your limits for having meaningful relationships.
Have you worked through a changing friendship? What did you learn?
We are always getting ready to live but never living.–Ralph Waldo Emerson
When’s the last time you thought, “Once I get that job I’ll be happy” or “Once I meet that guy I’ll be happy” or “ Once I fill-in-the-blank I’ll be happy?”
In his book “Happier,” Tal Ben-Shahar calls this the arrival fallacy – the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you’ll finally be content or happy.
The problem is no matter what goal we achieve or what feat we tackle, there is something in us that makes us feel as though we will never arrive. Often times when we accomplish a particular goal we are faced with new challenges or we set our sights on a new, loftier one. We’ll buy that perfect outfit, but then spill coffee on it or get tired of it and covet a new pair of leather boots. We think goals, possessions, or relationships will complete us when they were never intended to.
The arrival fallacy robs us of joy in the present because we’re too focused on the future. We find ourselves imagining a happier future when the present is passing us by. We are over preoccupied with getting ourselves perfect enough to live that we’re not really living at all. We’re so focused on the destination that we miss the journey.
This is your life. This is the day you’ve dreamt of last week, last year. Show up and be here now.
You have arrived.
While technology and social media have their advantages, a growing amount of research is proving that the overuse of both might be making us sick. Millennials (individuals with birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s) are the most digitally connected generation. When it comes to social media they are biggest consumers, spending about 3.8 hours a day according to one report.
Smartphone users check their phones up to 110 times a day and up to every six seconds in the evening. They also check Facebook an average of 14 times a day. In 2011, Nielsen found that Americans spent almost 1 in every 5 minutes online on social media sites — by last year, that amount had climbed to 1 in every 4.3 minutes.
Here are five signs that the overuse of your smartphone and social media might be negatively affecting you:
1. You’re worried you’re missing out.
Have you ever felt left out after seeing a picture of your best friends adventuring or partying it up without you? FOMO for short, Fear of Missing Out is a form of social anxiety mostly associated with smartphones and social networking sites in which one is worried he or she might miss a social interaction, experience or satisfying event. Our increased dependence on the Internet has caused some of us to feel anxious when we feel disconnected, which can lead to a feeling of missing out on significant events.
2. Being away from your phone makes you anxious.
Peter Whybrow, the director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA has likened computers (and smart phones) to “electronic cocaine” — giving us emotional highs and lows throughout the day. One study in the United Kingdom found that smartphone users have developed a condition deemed Nomophobia, which is described as an intense fear of losing or becoming disconnected from one’s cell phone. A similar study even found that 75 percent of those surveyed used their smartphones in the bathroom. The study also found that 77 percent of people ages 18 to 24 have been found to be Nomophobic.
3. Your self-esteem has taken a hit.
One study discovered that that more than 50 percent of surveyed social media users honestly felt that using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter decreased their personal wellbeing. They felt these networking sites had an overall negative effect on their lives and felt that it was damaging to their self-esteem. While the way networking sites influence personal wellbeing is ultimately up to the individual, it is important to be aware of how these sites may be making you feel.
4. You sleep with your phone.
An astounding 83% say they sleep with their smartphones. When we let our smartphones invade the sheets and bedside, we’re setting ourselves up for less sleep and ultimately, lower productivity levels the following day. Smartphones let off blue light, which tells our body it’s morning time as there are larger amounts of blue light than red light let off in the AM hours.
It’s important to always remember that we are wired for in-person interaction and the online world is no substitute for the real thing.
5. You feel less connected.
Contrary to what you may think, being hyper connected online can actually backfire, leading to feelings of loneliness. Studies have shown that increased Internet usage coincides with increased loneliness. On the other hand, another study found people that spent less time socializing on Facebook and more time with real-life friends were less likely to be depressed. It’s how you use social media that matters — if you use it in moderation to engage, rather than merely observe, chances are you’re less likely to feel disconnected. It’s important to always remember that we are wired for in-person interaction and the online world is no substitute for the real thing.
Imagine the time you spend on social media or plugged into your phone and the possibilities of what you could do with that time if you gave it back to yourself to spend as you wish. Give yourself permission to dream about what you could do with that time. Write that novel. Volunteer. Take that trip. Read more books. Taking a cleanse from social media and detoxing from negative behaviors with your smartphone can give you a clean slate of sorts, allowing you to cultivate new, healthier habits and put boundaries in place. We suggest three types of digital detoxes: a 15 day cleanse from social media, a 30 day cleanse, or a part-day cleanse in which you refrain from using social media or your phone first thing in the morning and two to three hours before bed. Give it a shot and be surprised by how much more time you have in a day.
Will you be taking a social media break anytime soon? Why or why not?
Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.
To experience shame is to be fully human; to at times feel inadequate, insufficient, inferior, unworthy and even unlovable. While guilt is the feeling of doing wrong, shame is the feeling of being something wrong.
While shame is most noticeably experienced the moment we realize we’ve done something wrong or stupid (kissed that frog, spilled coffee on a stranger) or failed to do something right (be there when your best friend needed you the most), in its most dangerous form shame can become a pervading experience, shaping our every thought and action.
Shame is costly. Too many of us spend our lives devoid of the security and joy we deserve because of it. Thankfully, whatever the origin shame does not have to be our destiny.
Here are some ways we can live in radiance rather than in shame:
Ditch The Past
The shameful parts of your past have no credible place in the glorious part of your present or future. Unless you intentionally choose to invite them in, your mistakes, failures and even breakdowns don’t deserve a role in the beautiful unfolding of what is yet to come.
Sing A New Anthem
Come up with and memorize three mantras, affirmations or verses that speak to the core of your true identity and value such as: I am strong, capable, talented and resilient. Let this be your new anthem.
Sift Through Lies
Don’t get lost in your own head. It can be a dangerous place to wander. Our thoughts have tremendous power to paralyze us with feelings of unworthiness, shame and inadequacy. Until we learn to control our self-deprecating thoughts, they will control us. A three-part recipe for renewing the thousands of thoughts you have each day includes:
Recognize your thoughts: Take each thought captive, identify and chastise the lies and release the truths.
Reject the lies that are not aligning with your true value. Refuse to believe them.
Renew your thoughts: Refine and rephrase them to reflect true and good things.
Shame thrives on feelings of being isolated. When it gets us all to itself, shame loves to mess with our heads. If shame as Dr. Brené Brown said is indeed the feeling we are “unworthy of love and belonging,” one of the best ways to combat such an erroneous belief is to engage in healthy community. Summon the courage to tell someone safe what’s been robbing you of your joy. Chances are you’re not as crazy as you think. If you’re terrified to share the source of your shame with even one of your closest friends, invest in a counselor. Brown says that shame needs “secrecy, silence and judgment” to grow exponentially in our lives. Don’t give these three weeds the water they need to grow.
Be brave, take heart and don’t give shame the upper hand in your life.
What are some weeds you can clear out of your thought life this week?