Finally I got organized enough to get my laundry done.
My mom and I used to give each other dish towels as welcome home gifts when we traveled. I continued this tradition with my kids when they grew up. I love dishtowels. But I have so many that when they are all washed, I can’t close the dishtowel drawer.
I have so many socks that when they are washed, I can’t shut the sock drawer. I began to suspect that I have too many things.
I took stock of more than my laundry. I had three humidifiers but I decided I needed a different kind and ordered one. When it came, I hated it but since I used it before deciding I hated it, I couldn’t return it. Now I have four humidifiers.
As I was fretting about having too many things, my daughter dropped off sacks of old clothes for me to look through to see if I wanted any of it. It took me over a week to decide I wanted one shirt and one pair of pajamas. I took the rest to the Thrift Store but in truth nobody wants your old clothes. Clothes nowadays are so cheap that they can’t be recycled easily–not even for rags– and thrift stores have trouble selling them Often only 20-30% of donated clothing gets sold. Meanwhile, the textile industry produces more pollution than planes or automobiles.
Feeling guilty, I vowed to only wear old clothes. I stuck to this for one day. I got a compliment on a shirt that belonged to my daughter in the 90s! But before long I was thinking about how slow my phone is and cool it would be to get a phone and a watch that could charge together on a wireless charger. Yes, I was back in the clutches–and I don’t mean clutch purse although I have one of those, too.
Since WWII, the world has been gripped by a shopping frenzy. Some of this is because of planned obsolesce–things are designed to break and be hard to repair. Parts from one brand don’t fit into another brand. People have to buy to replace.
The other cause is Affluenza. Affluenza is a psychological condition caused by having too much, resulting in sadness and isolation. In the wealthy it manifests itself in a lack of motivation along with entitlement, isolation, and guilt. You can take a quiz to see how deep into it you are. Here are a few of the questions.
“Do you sometimes feel as though your personal expenses are so demanding that you can’t afford public expenses like schools, parks,and transit?”
“Have you ever experienced road rage?”
“Do you ever use shopping as “therapy”?”
“Do you get bored unless you have something to consume (goods, food, media)?”
I only scored a 22 on that test, no affluenza, although I can relate to getting bored easily. On this one, I got “mild “case of affluenza.
To put it into perspective, all living things collect and store. It’s natural to want to stock up for the future and to be safe and comfortable. However, advertising and the media can put false emphasis on things that you must buy to stay happy. The goal is to make you insecure so you’ll buy more than you need or even want.
Affluenza has a dark side of always wanting and needing more, being insecure, being vain, being obsessed with appearances. Placing a high value on appearance, fame, money and possessions leads to emotional distress, over-consumption, “luxury fever,”entitlement, and swollen expectations. People raised with too much wealth can have problems loving others and forming intimate relationships. Money can equal love and leave people hollow. People can buy ridiculous things such as perfectly square ice cubes, and John Lennon’s tooth but will that make you happy? Well, I must admit to buying Dora Jordan’s theater handbook, however, materialism makes people sad.
One solution, of course is to not buy anything new unless you have room for it. Also, don’t fool yourself into thinking that a whole lot of people out there want your old stuff. You buy it and you’ll more than likely have to keep it forever or have it go into the landfill.
Also, recognize that being status conscious is a sign of narcissism. Don’t let that type of person make you feel bad about yourself.
Things don’t always make you happy–unless maybe it’s a dishtowel from your mom. Then it might make you remember that small tokens can be as meaningful as big ones.