With the 4th of July coming up, it has made me think often about the gift it is to live in America. This place is filled with opportunities and freedoms. I have been to other countries where the people just DREAM of moving to America. For freedom. For the opportunities. For the opportunity for more.
Although, simply living in America, can cause clutter. It is what we allow our American culture to tell us: what we need, what we should want, and how to obtain it. What we sometimes forget, is that our culture actually may be hindering us from living the simple and uncluttered lives we want.
America truly is beautiful because like every other place in the world, it was created by God. But like every other place in the world, it has been affected by sin and our culture sure can have an affect on us:
1. “I’m gonna” syndrome: How often do you hear people say, “I’m gonna do THIS”…yet realize that they never have? We live in a culture that is always looking to the next thing. The latest and greatest thing. When kids are freshmen in high school, adults start asking the questions “what are going to be when you grow up? What are you going to major in?”
- The unknowns! The thing is, many kids do not know. And it is okay to NOT know. We flood our teens with the idea that you need to have it all figured out when you go to college. Are we as a culture pushing them too fast? I don’t know. But we often hear kids saying “I’m gonna do this…” when really, they are walking aimlessly through life, trying to figure out who they are and what they should be.
- So how is this a cause of clutter? How do you filter through all of the opinions and thoughts of what others are telling you, you should be? How many kids you should have? What you should accomplish? How much money you should make? It causes mental clutter! All because we constantly live in this “I’m gonna…” mindset.
2. Ideas. You don’t have to look far for ideas in America. Let’s take Pinterest for example. I am going to throw out a disclaimer and say YES, I do have a Pinterest account and I DO enjoy going on that website. But what we have to be careful with is that pinning can cause more “clutter.” Depending on your personality and who you are, does pinning items add MORE stress to your life? Does it cause you to buy supplies to make a craft or recipe, but then you never end up making it? How many of us have boxes of unfinished projects, thanks to Pinterest? I have now pared down my DIY projects, but ideas via magazines, Pinterest, the internet, friends, you name it, can cause unnecessary clutter.
3. Acquire and accumulate. In America, there’s this continual subconscious idea that we need to constantly acquire and accumulate. Simon Scharme once said “We tend to confuse the good life with a life of goods.” WOWZA! Is that not the truth? Do you run on a “need to have” basis? Do you think that more IS better?
- In your circle of friends, are you constantly asking where someone got something, turning around, and buying it yourself? We have this tendency to think that we will “arrive in life” when we have what everyone else has. It is easy to confuse the good life with material possessions.
- How do you define the good life? Is acquiring and accumulating satisfying to you? It has taken me all too long to realize that constantly acquiring and accumulating is not satisfying for me personally. Because of that, I am continually tweaking our life, to make sure we don’t fall into that very trap.
4. Technology. Can you imagine life without the internet? How would we know how to find a destination? How to fix something? How to communicate? Just think about that! Whatever happened to using a map? Learning how to fix something by trial and error (often times, more error?) What happened to calling someone on the phone or going over TO their house to talk to them?
- Setting the bar. I send many emails a day because it’s easy and convenient. But is it the avenue I always want to choose? I’m not so sure. Technology has set up this bar system – the bar keeps going higher and higher, and many are trying to keep up with this bar. Buying the latest and greatest technology, only puts the bar higher and higher. When will we ever stop? Can we stop? Will we stop?
- In our culture, we tend to view technology as a ruler and not a tool. Tools don’t have control over you. You control the tool. Rulers do have control – when someone tells you to silence your cell phone or turn it off, we get all up in arms. That’s when it becomes a ruler. It becomes an “i-god” instead of an “i-pod” or “i-phone”.
- Are you letting technology rule your life? Are you letting it become more of a priority than you should? What changes do you need to make? When you buy the next step up, are you going to say “no” the next time?
- Technology causes clutter because we as a culture have a hard time saying NO to the latest and greatest. We are trying to keep up with the times, yet the times keep changing. Don’t clutter your life aimlessly running towards a goal with no end – TECHNOLOGY.
How do you see the American culture influencing your life? Do you see ways in which it has caused MORE clutter in your life? Not necessarily PHYSICAL clutter, but mental clutter as well?
What are your thoughts?