By Marcia Shetler
In his book Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity, Rev. Adam Hamilton observes that contentment and simplicity go hand in hand.“There comes a point when we have enough stuff,” he says, “and everything above and beyond that level only creates stress. When I think of the stress created by our relentless pursuit of stuff, I think of a hamster running on a wheel. The hamster gets on the wheel, not knowing where it is going. It starts running faster and faster until one of two things happens: either it flies off the wheel into the side of the cage, exhausted, or the hamster wheel breaks. That is the image that comes to mind when I look at current consumerism trends. We are like a hamster on a wheel. We really don’t know where we are going, but we are sure everybody else does; so we run faster and faster to keep up. Eventually, something is sure to break–the system or us or both.”
Here are five practical suggestions from Rev. Hamilton’s book to help you transition from the hamster wheel to taking positive steps that will make a difference as you find your enough.
#1: Reduce your consumption by setting tangible goals.
- Reduce your trash consumption by using canvas bags when you go grocery shopping and to refuse any extra packaging.
- Grab only one or two napkins, as opposed to a handful, when you eat at a fast-food restaurant.
- If you are buying a new car, aim to improve fuel economy over your existing car by at least 10 percent.
- Reduce your utilities usage by 10 percent by setting the thermostat back a couple of degrees when you are away during the day and asleep at night.
#2: Before making a purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” and “Why do I want this?”
- Use the twenty-four hour-rule. When you see something you think you must have, wait twenty-four hours before making the purchase. If you still feel you should buy the item after waiting a full day, go back and get it.
#3: Use something up before buying something new.
- Wait until a replacement is truly necessary.
- Take good care of the things you buy and use them until they are empty, broken, or worn out.
- Buy things that are made to last, and, when buying things that have a short lifespan, spend your money wisely.
- Take better care of your furniture, appliances, and other things around the house. Resole your shoes. Mend rips and tears and make repairs.
- Remind yourself that you don’t always need to have new things. If you feel something is really outdated, keep it for an extra six months or year before replacing it.
- Sell or donate things that still work.
#4: Plan low-cost entertainment that enriches.
- Plan entertainment that’s simple and cheap.
- Remember that a memorable vacation can be simply relaxing and fellowship with family and friends.
#5: Ask yourself, ”Are there major changes that would allow me to simplify my life?”
- If your car is already paid off, consider keeping it for another year or two before buying another one and re-starting another debt obligation.
- Consider downsizing your home.
- Get rid of intangibles you rarely or never use, like club memberships.
Rev. Hamilton says, “Remember, if you cannot do all the things God is calling you to do and you’re unable to find joy in your life, perhaps it’s time to simplify in some major ways.” Good advice for life in general, and especially as you find your enough.
About the Author
Marcia Shetler became the Executive Director/CEO of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center in March 2011. She holds an MA in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, a BS in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University, and a Bible Certificate from Eastern Mennonite University. She formerly served as administrative staff in two middle judicatories of the Church of the Brethren, and as director of communications and public relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana, an administrative faculty position. Marcia’s vocational, spiritual, and family experiences have shaped her vision and passion for faithful stewardship ministry that recognizes and celebrates the diversity of Christ’s church and the common call to all disciples to the sacred practice of stewardship. She enjoys connecting, inspiring, and equipping Christian steward leaders to transform church communities.
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