We all know that reducing our consumption of products utilizing one-time use materials (ie: disposable plastic water bottles) contributes to protecting the health of our oceans. What you may not know, however, is that minimizing the number of things we possess and consume is shown to have significant health benefits on our own mental and physical well-being.
Many of us use material possessions (often unconsciously) as a means to fill an internal void. The novelty of the shiny new car or the larger than life TV, however, eventually wears off and we are once again left feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Why is that? Well here is the thing, material possessions, although they can temporarily alter our moods, don’t equate to happiness. This is something we all inherently know but need to be reminded of sometimes!
Some studies have shown that owning more possessions is actually correlated with less positive emotions and self-perceptions.
The concept of vairaigya or non-attachment is a fundamental value of many Eastern philosophies including that of the Jains, Hindus and Buddhists. They believe that attachment to anything leads to suffering, since everything is temporary. The idea here is not to reject everything either. Rather it is to observe and understand your surrounding without getting attached. Learning how to perceive your possessions as emotionally neutral, may be one of the best thing you can do for your mind!
Here are a few ways you can begin your inner journey:
1. Set out to replace the pursuit of material possessions with the pursuit of meaningful experiences such as building relationships with individuals in your community and with nature (ie: do some outdoor reading by the ocean).
* Remember that people and nature are not yours to own!
2. Take on new hobbies that give you a sense of fulfillment and tranquility. This can be anything from baking to doing yoga to knitting to reading to running.
3. Set out to reach personal intellectual, emotional and fitness goals.
4. Learn quality life skills such as time management and emotional control.
5. Free yourself of things you don’t actually need. Get rid of stuff that are no longer of use by donating to charity or giving it to people who you know will use it.
6. Teach yourself to be satisfied with just being (without any distractions). There are numerous meditation techniques out there that can help you achieve this mind state!
Less clutter (material and mental) definitely free’s up space for the more important and meaningful things in life!
Remember “the less that I own the less that owns me”!