Feeling motivated to go shopping? Chances are you don't need to go anywhere. Maybe just stay home and play a game with the kids. Or teach them the most effective words to protect them from the futility of a life trapped in the work/spend/debt cycle.
"You don't need it." These four simple words have the power to change the way you see the world and your life. Since we have become infected with the values of consumerism like greed, selfishness, and the accumulation of material goods, the words, "you don't need it" can be liberating.
So what does one really need?
Strictly speaking a person could get by with food, clothing (if the climate requires clothes at all), shelter, clean air and water. While these would ensure survival they may not allow one to make progress in life in order to experience their full potential.
Someone may have the ability to become a great thinker or builder or artist, but if they are caught in a struggle to meet their basic physiological needs, they may never have the opportunity to develop their gifts.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow said as much when he created his pyramid of human needs while thinking about what motivates human behaviour. At the base of his pyramid you will find the basic survival needs. But they are only the base from which we continue to work upwards when these conditions are met.
|This is what you really need according to|
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
According to Maslow and other thinkers, we have a natural drive, or motivation, to progress all the way up the levels to Self-Actualization. As we self-actualize we become everything that we can possibly be, bringing the best we have to offer to the current situation in the present moment.
Some pyramids add a level above Self-Actualization called Transcendence in which one helps others to self-actualize and achieve their full potential.
Consumerism takes advantage of our natural drives, misdirects us, and presents distractions and roadblocks on our way toward furthering our personal development and enjoyment of life. When we see how we are being blocked we can say to ourselves, "You don't need it".
Instead, we can focus on what we actually need - basic survival requirements, safety, love, and feeling good about ourselves. This is what we need to achieve our potential, then help others do the same.
Maslow found that self-actualizers share certain characteristics. Whether famous or not, educated or not, rich or poor, self-actualizers roughly fit the following profile.
Characteristics of Self-Actualized People
- Self-Acceptance and Democratic World View
- Peak Experiences
- Solitude and Privacy
- Philosophical Sense of Humour
- Enjoy the Journey
Now, there is a shopping list I can get behind! To me it looks a lot like a simple living checklist as simple living allows the time and head space for such pursuits.
Contrary to popular belief, this shopping list can be largely filled with little to no money. You can't buy friends and love, and most of the other things above the basic survival needs. You can't buy your way to the top of personal development.
Our system believes that we are motivated by engaging in our role as consumers, but I believe that is wrong. Maslow and many, many others throughout history, have pointed out that when it comes to becoming everything we can be, you don't need much more than the motivation and intention to do good and be free.
Our true motivation lies in becoming the best individuals that we can possibly be in this moment in time given the gifts and talents that we possess right now.