Ipad, Itouch, Iphone, Blackberry, Mac, Apple, Coach, Reebok; trying to stay up to date with the trends can be overwhelming. If you live in a modern society you can not help but be bombarded with the sights and sounds of the latest and coolest gadgets and trends. How do you stay grounded amidst a consumer culture?
And if not grounded, how does consumerism drain your productivity?
If you are someone who has ever saved your money to buy a particular item- let’s say the latest in cell phone technology- and all of your energy is directed toward reaching this goal. Any extra money you have you find yourself putting aside, bringing you closer to this latest and very cool phone.
You eat, drink, and sleep thinking about how your life will somehow change once you have it.
[If you’ve ever found yourself in such a situation, you know very well how energy consuming and mentally draining this can be!]
So, you’ve worked hard and you’ve saved your money and you finally have this new piece of technology. But nothing happened.
Your life hasn’t miraculously changed.
You still look the same.
And, a few days after your major investment something fancier and a little more advanced is on the market.
Where does this leave you? Sure, you have a new phone (or any other material possession), but think of the journey which led you to this ‘thing’. Think of all the time invested (directly and indirectly) leading to this possession. Could it have been time otherwise spent more productively, for a better cause?
Narrated Abdullah Bin Mas`ud Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: “A man shall be asked concerning five things on the day of resurrection: concerning his life, how he spent it; concerning his youth, how he grew old; concerning his wealth, whence he acquired it, and in what way he spent it; and what was it that he did with the knowledge that he had.” [Sahih Bukhari]
When put in such a perspective, measure all of the energy and time you put into acquiring this material possession. Does it make sense? This doesn’t apply only to the latest technology, but to your life in general. If you find yourself chasing trends you’ll inevitably trap yourself in a never-ending cycle of want, work, spend – want, work, spend; a cycle with no higher purpose.
Narrated Abu Wail: Hudhaifa said, “The Verse:—“And spend (of your wealth) in the Cause of Allah and do not throw yourselves in destruction,” (2.195) was revealed concerning spending in Allah’s Cause. [Sahih Bukhari]
Granted, it’s not necessarily bad to want nice things for yourself and family. After all, we are humans living in a material world.
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Of the dinar you spend as a contribution in Allah’s path, or to set free a slave, or as a sadaqa given to a needy, or to support your family, the one yielding the greatest reward is that which you spent on your family. [Sahih Muslim]
On the contrary, it’s just a matter of control. It is about being in control of your wants, instead of your wants for material goods being in control of you.
3 Ways Uncontrolled Consumerism Drains Productivity
1. Hindrance of your pursuit of knowledge. When you are constantly chasing material possessions, how much time are you investing in yourself? How much time are you investing in building your wealth of knowledge? Take a careful look on how you are spending your time chasing material wealth as opposed to building a wealth of knowledge in your own life.
2. Hindrance of focus. Sure, you might be focused on acquiring stuff, but how’s the pulse of your focus on the bigger issues at hand? When was the last time you seriously took note of those around you – your family, your community; or the direction you’re steering the course of your life?
3. Lack of Consistency. Again, there can only be so many ‘things’ a person can acquire until there is ultimately a disconnect, then what?
If Knowledge+Focus+Consistency=Productivity, and your hunger for material gain is draining all three ingredients to a healthy and productive lifestyle, it’s time to reassess.
3 Tips to Avoid Consumerism’s Productivity Drain
1. Evaluate your goals. Ask yourself why you’re consumed with chasing after material goods to begin with? Is it because you’re not really certain of the path you’re on now? Take a look at your short and long term goals, you may find that you could probably be doing so much more to fulfill these goals. In doing so, you’re automatically taking away control from the need to constantly consume, and redirecting your energy.
2. Get involved! Too often, when we get caught up in the material world we forget how fortunate we really are. When you get involved in social activities and become exposed to people who are struggling to meet even their basic needs, you are automatically forced to put your own desires into perspective.
3. Create a habit of Sadaqah (giving charity). Not only will this help increase the barakah in your wealth, but when you incorporate this into your budget regularly you are reminded of the beauty that accompanies humility.
How do you control your urge to consume unproductively?