Since leaving my job at the end of November, a curious thing has happened to my spending: it has slowed down dramatically. Now, you might say, of course it has: you don’t have a regular paycheck anymore! True, true, but it’s more than just that: it’s that I don’t even have the desire to spend money. No need for designer shoes or bags, no need for random things picked up that I never ended up using, no need for that fourteenth pair of black pants, and no need to browse in stores for something/anything.
There were times, mind you, in my frenzied life—juggling 60+ hours of work a week, a 3-hour daily commute, and two young kids—when the spending would slow down, but the mindless eating would start. When one was temporarily tamed, the other would rear its ugly head.
Now it’s a different story: Spending time with my kids reading; being able to make it all the way to the end of a compelling book (I just finished Water for Elephants…which was amazing) or through the entire newspaper; spending an extra 10 minutes to have a cup of tea in the morning; going for a 5-mile invigorating run outdoors: these are all things I treasure so much more now than that trendy bag, pair of shoes, or piece of clothing.
It got me thinking: how much of the mindlessness in our lives (and this includes mindless eating, drugs, drinking, and so much more) is a result of the crazy impersonal nature of our 24/7 lives? It’s almost as if we’re trying to feed some innermost, unspoken (and unmet) need. We put ourselves on a diet …yet again… or a budget (or go into rehab), forcing ourselves to restrict our compulsiveness—but we never get to the root of the problem, of why we feel the need to do it in the first place. That may be why diets and budgets often backfire with “binges”.
I think about the actors and actresses in Hollywood with big issues (think Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and all the stars in rehab for substance abuse, eating disorders, etc) and I see this firsthand: lives lived in excess are most certainly trying to fill a void. What that void is has to be determined by each of us as it’s an individual thing.
And when we feed those needs, a funny thing happens: we don’t need to diet anymore because our weight naturally gets under control; we don’t need to manage our credit card debt (because it never gets out of whack), and we don’t need to go into rehab because the drugs and drinking just aren’t necessary anymore.
How to identify what we’re really craving? It’s not easy but: Living in the moment; not living for other people (and what they think you should be—or should be doing); having a greater purpose in life; loving wholeheartedly; learning to appreciate what we have (not what others have); respecting our bodies every single day (as you never know when your days may be up)…these are just a few of the things that are helping me.