Reflection for a mindful holiday
Updated: Jan 7
Over the next few weeks we will be targeted with pop-up ads from websites we’ve visited, relentless email campaigns, subliminal music and flashing lights.
Not long ago retail stores were all closed on Thanksgiving, and we couldn’t imagine that would ever change. Families relaxed for a day sharing time and food with each other, no gifting required. Now a few hours after we finish Thanksgiving dinner, stores open for pre-Black Friday sales. Pre-dawn on Friday morning apparently isn’t early enough.
And there’s the near-instant gratification of online shopping, clicking the keyboard and Amazon delivery in a day or two. All of this doesn’t miraculously happen without risk for both physical injury and mental stress to employees who fulfill these orders, as a recent npr investigation uncovered. Knowing this, I no longer feel comfortable giving my money to Amazon no matter how convenient it may seem.
Don’t mean to put a damper on all this shopping and retail sales, but this is a good time to revisit Annie Leonard’s groundbreaking 2007 video The Story of Stuff, which gives perspective to how mindless consumerism is impacting Earth.
What price have we paid as a society? Whatever thrill the buying brings is temporary. Mindless consumerism is a major cause of financial stress, plastic waste, and overflowing landfills.
This can stop with mindful choices, in a similar way meditation gives permission to let go of the urge to react. Think yoga, remember mountain pose. Keep your grounding and find unwavering inner strength and contentment.
The holidays are an emotional roller coaster. Is there anyone you know who has experienced loss of a loved one this past year? Anyone struggling or alone? A call, note, or gift of food can make all the difference.
One year I visited a gallery shop at a day shelter for the homeless, Heartside Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I will never forget being told that the art I purchased was created by a woman who was struggling to fulfill her dream of attending community college, and she “will be so thrilled” to hear that one of her paintings had sold.
Now is the time to support our local indie bookstores. What would life be like without them? Support local artisans, artists on Etsy, and fair trade shops.
Another meaningful gift is supporting a nature and wildlife organization. One of my favorites is Sheldrick Wildlife Trust that is dedicated to saving orphaned elephants and eventually returning them to live in the wild.
Excessive, mindless consumption will never bring contentment. What will sustain us is contemplating our purchases with care for the Earth, social justice, and our own peace of mind.