It's easy, especially in a society where consumption is the common cause, to give in to the trappings of materialism.
It's not uncommon for someone to walk in the ever-tightening spiral, which, at first appears to be a circle, wherein one grows ever closer to the drain of financial ruin. We work harder and earn more to push ourselves away from the middle; to temporarily widen the sweep. Inevitably, the need to "keep up with the Joneses" draws us back in... the bigger house, the fancier car, the privater schools and the groovier togs.
The current economic struggles faced by a seemingly ever-increasing proportion of the global population offer us an opportunity to pause and consider what we really value.
Must we lead the complicated lives we do? What complexity can we abandon? What burdens do we bring on ourselves that offers no reward?
I work at a company where they offer classes on work/life balance. This is enough of a problem among my colleagues that the company feels compelled to tell people to go home and stop worrying about work at least long enough to get four or five hours of sleep in a night. What does this say about us? Do we love our jobs so much that we can't stop thinking about them? Or, are we in so deep we desperately need that next raise or promotion, and now, just to stay afloat?
Perhaps we don't need that new plasma TV. Maybe the three year old Toyota really is adequate, and we can do without the Lexus. If you're already a billionaire, maybe it doesn't matter, but if you're working for a living, maybe it's time to start living in your life instead of filling it with things.
There are people who fill their garages or basements with thousands of dollars in woodworking tools, and never cut a single board. There are people with thousands of dollars tied up in patio furniture, who never stop and have a seat. People with pools who never swim. These poor people have signed up for enormous loads of maintenance and debt, and for what? So they have an excuse to keep working?
Certainly, this is a time for paring back. It is also a time for reflection.
In between the various news reports and play dates and pilates classes, if you can, take some time and consider what you can do without. You may find there is a life somewhere, buried under all the chaos and obligation.