By living as a mindful consumer (instead of a mindless consumer) we’ll be able to invest much more of their income without sacrificing happiness than most people ever think possible. But this of course depends upon having disposable income. There are many who have just enough to be able to meet their needs and not much left over beyond that. But even they will benefit if more of us were to adopt a wiser way of living.
First, it’s important to note that not everyone living in poverty is actually lacking in disposable income. Over time, we’ve accepted increasing standards of living as necessities in spite of the fact that necessities by definition ought not change over time. Food, water, and security are about the only true necessities – beyond that there are levels of cleanliness, comfort, and conveniences and other luxuries that are ever rising but not necessary.
1. They will have an Emergency Fund
Second point to acknowledge, even after accounting for the first point, some individuals really do only a modest sum left after covering the necessary expenses. They may never achieve financial independence from their employer but even in such cases, by living mindfully, they can build up a cushion for themselves that enables them to sleep better at night. At the least they may have enough for an emergency.
2. More Natural Settings Translates to Health Benefits for All
Even today, many people in America live in poverty. And yet, even those individuals will benefit when the rest of society lives as more mindful consumers. I know this is different from the story we’ve been told about how spending is good for the economy but think about this. In the first place its good for the environment which means its good for our health. Reduced consumption leads to a healthier environment, fostering increased biodiversity and more natural settings, all of which ultimate contribute to the well-being of individuals including the poor.
3. More People Work to Make Society Better for All
Equally important, as more of us get to becoming financially independent of our employers, there will be an inclination to work to make society better. We look to solve the problems of the day instead of creating problems that don’t exist in order to maximize profit.
4. Less Addictive Products & Foods
That change in behavior also translates to untold benefits for the population at large. Today so much is produced to tempt people into spending in order to extract as much profit as possible. Since consumers are also workers, and since workers today (in the vast majority of cases) are dependent on their employers for their income, they work to maximize earnings. This is only natural when you have to rely on your income to put food on the table for you and your family. You do what you must.
5. Healthier Living
But imagine if you were financially independent of your employer. Among such people, few would work for companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-cola, Blue-bell if they don’t have to rely on their employers. True some individuals are not concerned about the impact on others. I imagine the CEOs of these companies (who are almost certainly financially independent) will still want to promote their unhealthy products to maximize profits for themselves. But where are they going to find the workers? Sure some people will never get to financial independence and they may be able to hire some of these people. But that’s a lot fewer people who are available which likely means a shrinkage of this sector of the economy. In other words, McDonald’s, Coca-cola, and Blue-bell will shrink and that’s a good thing. As a consumer that means less temptations that we’re likely to fall for. Today all companies are out to lure you into mindless consumption and they have multi-million dollar marketing budget and their smartest people are employed to make you spend money. As a result, consumers are likely to spend a lot more frivolously.
I know what your thinking. If we take away fast food options for consumers – and especially for the poor – won’t they have a harder time? Won’t they have to add in the chore of cooking in addition to their already busy lifestyle trying to make ends meet? True.
6. Fewer Healthcare Expenses
The benefit to the poor and to consumers in general is that we spend less on certain things like fast food and that improves health – which also means less is spent on healthcare expenses. Today the poor have among the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and a number of such conditions. Having fewer of these chronic issues not only makes you healthier but also enables you to save a lot on healthcare expenses.
BOTTOM LINE: THERE IS A BETTER WAY!
- As John Maynard Keynes said a century ago, people of our time ought to be largely independent of our employers for our income – unfortunately, due to “mindless consumerism”, we are not.
- Mindless consumerism is the underlying reason leading to the rise of chronic disease for 3 major reasons:
- It ties us to dependence on our employers and modern day employment is a health hazard for most (in part due to the sedentary nature of most jobs).
- It has led to environmental changes toxic to our wellbeing:
- (a). We evolved in and are best suited to natural environments and instead we live in increasingly artificial environments.
- (b). Overconsumption has lead us to engineer out the need for meaningful use of our legs for ambulation.
- Finally, it transforms workers to work with blinders on – instead of working for the product or service and receiving money as a side effect, workers focus on making money and the product or service is instead the side effect. The results (with respect to health) is that “food” is no longer food but changed to maximize pleasure and extract profit in spite of the toxicity to our health.
- Based on the science of wellbeing one can derive the philosophy that once basic needs are met, “The best things in life are free” therefore —>
- Most people can live far below their means without sacrificing happiness AND by investing the rest, they can become financially independent of their employers enabling them to be —>
- Happier. Healthier. Wealthier. More engaged. Simply better.