I’m reading a very frugal-minded book right now, called “A New Earth,” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s not ostensibly about frugality but it contains several frugal messages.
One is that consumerism–buying things for the sake of competition or boredom or to make yourself feel good–is an action of the ego, just as all mindless and evil actions and thoughts are. People believe that they will be perceived as being better for owning some new thing, but the satisfaction gained from purchasing something new is short-lived and soon the ego want something else, and something else, and something else, to fuel its quest for “more”.
Another frugal message is regarding the roles we play. One danger we have as a parent is that we will fall into a habit of constantly “doing”–“acting” in our role as parent–and never relaxing into simply “being” there with our children, as people, respecting them as individuals.
The advice is to practice “being rather than doing”. Simply relaxing, not always thinking about the “next thing” that has to be done, can be healing to both parent and child, as it allows them to exist as they are without playing roles for a short time. “Being” rather than “doing” will let the child feel valued as they are, and let the parent experience the child as she is without pressures or agendas.
I was glad to be reminded of this, because I often get so caught up with “doing”–getting the groceries, making dinner, washing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, etc. through the never-ending chore list–that some days I forget to share those relaxed times just playing with my girl. Heck, I even forget to give those relaxed moments to myself, always feeling the need to be “doing, doing, doing” . . . and I know exactly where it came from in my upbringing.
My husband, on the other hand, has a much easier time sitting down and reading a comic book in the middle of a busy day. Does this drive me absolutely insane sometimes? Yes! But I can also see that he will be much more capable of, and just playing with our daughter without feeling the pressure of “we have to get to the park”. My hope is that he is passing this on to our daughter, so she will hopefully be able to relax and just be herself and not let the dirty floor or smelly cat litter make her anxious.
And where does the frugality come in here? I know that there are days that I feel compelled to go to the grocery store because we “need” something, without stopping to think that perhaps we don’t really “need” it until tomorrow. Or ever! Maybe we don’t really “need” it at all; it’s just that it was on the agenda as the next thing to “do”.
The urge to shop often comes out of this urgency of “doing” something. I feel I must start some new project, and the next thing that follows is the urgency of buying a bunch of supplies to start doing it. Once it goes onto my mental list, it’s there nagging me until it’s checked off. Practicing “being” can help me relax and enjoy the moment without needing to schedule new unnecessary projects or shopping trips.
So, the message of the day is: relax, don’t worry about the next item on the agenda, enjoy life, and really cherish each moment of simply “Being” with her.