A few weeks ago I had written a blog post here about living simply and being frugal – it was such an interesting and familiar concept to me and I was merely happy that someone outside my social circle understood it too and even wrote a book about it!
My original reason behind looking into The Art of Frugal Hedonism is simply because I identify with most of it, I’ve always lived quite simply (compared to the average Australian) and have foregone what people think are ‘necessities’ simply because everyone has them (weekly shopping habits, two cars/brand new, my own big home, eating out all the time, latest gadgets, etc). In a Western country, simply put, people have high financial standards because they live in the most developed societies and have more decent wages compared to the rest of the developing world or third-world (where I was raised).
Western media and the way its culture has changed simply promote and drill it into people’s heads that so much consumption is a normal level, when it’s not and I’m no Greenie – but the authors of The Art of Frugal Hedonism, Stuffocation and How To Be Free are all too right.
This consumerist, materialist way of living is not sustainable and actually does little to benefit mankind.
It doesn’t make us happy.
In fact, the over-consumption is not only damaging the environment (ahem, companies who keep making short shelf life items) but also our emotional and mental health. The amount of clutter increases stress in people’s lives and while some may argue that having more is better – it’s not. More wages? More nice things?
Nope. The data shows it.
Once you have earned enough that the basics are covered and then some (you have to truly think about and prioritised what that ‘some’ is) it’s basically the highest level of happiness you can have. People who work so much more to earn more are not happier. In fact, they’re worse off.
In the book How To Be Free by Tom Hodgkinson, he traces back this attitude of ‘work-more-and-more-and-more’ and competitive careers as a negative influence of Protestants upon the Western world, timed with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. Around that time, factories actually started to produce more items (such as shoes and clothing) than what was needed by the population and so the higher-ups decided they needed to keep increasing profits by not only making more items than needed, but also convincing people they ‘need’ them. The idea of earning more to buy more, was born.
In the medieval ages way before this, this was not the case. People had less established work days and had more festivals and days off than we do! Granted, their lives were not as safe and comfortable (health wise and general bodily danger) as ours, though they knew how to enjoy themselves more. Tom points out something interesting – medieval Catholic (not Protestant!) beliefs labelled working to earn more money than you need was avarice. Evil greed.
Ever since our society has adapted the Protestant way of thinking, it’s not only damaged the Earth by the resources we can consume (that we don’t need to or could do so at a much lesser rate) but also our finances and mentality.
This is not just about living simple as a Domestic Woman so I have time at home, that is just one part of that for the women – though in general, I can’t help but think society really needs to stop falling for the working rat race and draining their own happiness away without knowing it.
Downsize your life, question your material/financial standards.
Question the harmful norms of Western society (which is now spreading all over the world).
Have more time to do what really makes you happy and spend time with those you really love.