January 10

Until you make peace with
who you are, you'll never be
content with what you have.

Doris Mortman


Today's Meditation:

But who am I?  Sometimes I think that no one in our culture wants me to know the answer to this question, for if I feel connected with myself, if I become content to accept myself as I am, flaws and all, I may just stop buying things, and I may stop helping to drive the consumer-driven economy that we've devised.  But making peace with myself means accepting who I am--all the promise and potential and strengths and weaknesses and successes and mistakes-- without judgment.  Yes, I can recognize flaws and try to fix them, but I don't judge myself when I do.

If I'm at peace with who I am, then the material things around me mean much, much less.  I can have things that make my life easier (my car's very helpful) or that help me to save time (I love the microwave oven sometimes), but the trick is to reach a point at which we don't really need more.  My car will last a while, and it gets me where I want to go quite well.  My computer is a bit old, but it does its job well.  A new one would be nice, but I'm fine with the one I have, too.

I think that one of the things that Doris is getting at is the concept of accepting ourselves as someone who doesn't need a new computer to be happy--we don't need the stronger, faster one if the one we have does the jobs we need it to do.  We don't need the stronger, faster, shinier car if the one we drive now does its job just fine--because I know that my identity isn't wrapped up in what I drive or what I have.

Our identities are precious things.  If we identify with things, then any improvement that we can imagine in our lives necessarily involves "improvements" in the things we have.  If we're secure in our identities, though, we can recognize when enough is enough, and spend our time developing our selves rather than continuing to play the game of collecting toys to make ourselves feel better.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things do you have that you really wish were better?  Do they really need to be better for you to accomplish things that you want to accomplish?  If so, how can you go about getting the improved versions?

Why is it important for advertisers and marketers to instill a bit of discontent with ourselves into our lives?

How might we go about making peace with who we are rather than focusing on what we have?

For further thought:

We know that material things don't offer contentment, but we still buy more--more of the props and gadgets our culture tells us we must have in order to be happy and "happening."  Our addiction to consumption distracts us from seeing that we are disconnected from ourselves, from our truth and from one another.  Any euphoria we gain from our material gains is
fleeting at best.

Susan L. Taylor


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