So often, we want our families to have what others have. Sometimes when I visit a beautifully furnished and decorated home, I feel my house is inferior and I need to go furniture shopping. When a friend tells me that a particular toy or electronic gadget greatly entertains her child, I feel like I should buy it for my kid. When I look at a beautifully dressed person, I believe my clothes need updating or accessorizing. However, this type of thinking is actually coveting. The "Keeping up with the Jones mentality" is one of Satan's tools, designed to make us miserable, either by buying things we don't need which clutter up our homes, buying things we can't afford and getting into financial trouble or by wishing we had something we don't have instead of counting our blessings. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, "All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress."
We have all heard the phrase "money doesn't buy happiness." It is actually true! Tim Kasser, Associate Professor of Psychology at Knox College and author of “The High Price of Materialism,” conducted a study of people in the same zip code within the same age group. The study compared people with a consumer mentality (typical consumer-driven middle class) versus “voluntary simplifiers” who downscaled their lives by buying less and even working in lower paying jobs. Surprise, surprise! Voluntary simplifiers were much happier while people with a consumer mentality lived lives of anxiety, depression and physical problems.
My husband and I have friends who live a life of voluntary simplicity. At the time that we were neighbors, my husband and I were busy commuting and working in the corporate world (before we had children.) Meanwhile, our friends had a small business which paid their basic necessities but didn't allow for many extras. They didn't subscribe to expensive cable/satellite service or eat out at pricey restaurants. Instead, they enjoyed listening to music on CDs, reading books and watching movies they borrowed at the library. They called their visit to the library "Lover's Night Out." They took walks, found free hiking trails, and explored local towns and historical sites for entertainment. Even though my husband and I could go to a movie or a see Broadway show anytime we wanted and visit the nicest restaurants around, we were stressed out all the time and exhausted. Our friends, on the other hand, were happy and content. There is a lesson to be learned from our neighbors. Frugality can be fun!!
So with the new year, I am determined to find fun in frugality, live life more simply, and count my blessings more often. How about you? How can you live a more joyful, simple life? Please share your thoughts.