On Monday, I wrote a Five Frugal Things post that mentioned CoolSculpting. And I wrote a few words about body image, and about how much money we could save if we did not believe the industry’s message which says, “Your body is wrong, and we can help you fix it.”
Apparently I should maybe have just written about post about that, because most of the lively discussion in the comments was about the body image thing and not about the other four frugal things I shared.
(Butternut squash rolls, I’m sorry that you got overlooked!)
The discussion made me think about marketing and contentment, and here we are.
Today’s actual post:
I’ve written a lot of posts about contentment on this blog over the years.
Contentment is something I don’t see addressed all that often in the personal finance blogosphere, and I really scratch my head when I think about this.
To me, contentment is a foundational part of living a frugal lifestyle.
The reason I think it’s foundational?
The job of a marketer is to help you see where your life is lacking so that they can then sell you something to fix that lack.
And if something is not lacking, a good marketer will make up a lack and create a need for a product where before there was none.
If you feel like your life isn’t lacking, it’s gonna be very hard to sell you something.
(Why pay money if your life is fine already?)
But if you think:
- your looks aren’t good enough
- your body isn’t good enough
- your house isn’t good enough
- your clothes aren’t good enough
- your car isn’t good enough
- your food isn’t good enough
- your vacations aren’t good enough
then you are SO easy to sell to.
And this is particularly true if they can make you believe that lots of other people DO have good enough x, y, or z, and that all it takes is a product or service to help you reach the same level as these other people.
Contentment might seem like a rather intangible, unimportant side item, but if that were true, then why would marketers spend so much money trying to make you feel inferior, less than, and inadequate?
As long as they can make you feel discontent, then you are ripe for the picking.
How can you become more content?
Feel free to browse the contentment archives for more on this, but here are three things that help me.
1. Focus on what you do have.
Marketing makes us look at what others have or what a company can sell us; the antidote is developing eyesight to see what you already have.
Gratefulness lists are the main tool that helps me with this, so if you haven’t tried this habit, give it a go!
It might be a little hard at first, but new research says that gratefulness actually changes your brain. Thinking thankful thoughts makes it easier for your brain to keep thinking thankful thoughts!
2. Make a point of not looking at what you don’t have.
- Unsubscribe from emails.
- Unfollow people on Instagram/Facebook.
(Lots of what you see on there is fake anyway. And even if something is real, it’s not worth following if it makes you just feel less-than. Don’t be a hero and try to fight it; just unfollow!)
- Install a web blocker to keep you off of sites that tempt you to be discontent.
- Be careful about how much “inspo” you let into your life.
Fit inspo (people with perfect bodies, which are often edited), home decor inspo, homeschooling inspo, hair inspo, makeup inspo…a lot of these things are not bad in and of themselves.
But if all this inspo is making you feel like a failure or is making you discontent, then it’s not helping you.
Weed it out.
(And if this means you need to unfollow me, go for it. I don’t want you to follow anyone that’s not helping you!)
3. Make sure you have real-ness in your life.
Media and marketing produce a smooth, polished picture of what your life should be like.
And they’d like you to believe that the rest of the world has a life that is smooth and polished because of the products/services they’ve bought.
You have help counteract this by trying to make sure you have some realness in your life.
If you are good friends with someone in real life (vs on the internet), you will probably see that their life isn’t perfect (and they’ll see yours isn’t either! You can give each other a reality check.)
And online, you can choose to expose yourself to people who are vulnerable and real rather than fake.