Full candor, I find it more than slightly confusing to live in a country/culture, that
- Is supposedly centered around Christian values
- Is by and large the number one consumer society in the world
Don’t get me wrong. I understand our culture. We’ve been raised on the idea of getting and giving gifts for Christmas. Just about every Christmas song expresses the well known tropes of the season; the lyrics of one of the songs literally says something about “eating too much.” Without irony, that statement by itself makes me want to lose my lunch.
How did we get this way? A society supposedly founded on the morals of a man who seemingly only ever truly owned the clothes he wore (arguable, for sure, as our founding fathers were actually far less religious than originally thought), and consumerism; the antithesis of Christ’s life. I’m not making religious proclamations here, only observing a stark difference between the man American Christians say they follow and the literal stampedes of people that have killed people trying to get the new black Friday TV deal.
Christ was a man about owning little and giving much; Americans are not a product of Christianity, but capitalism. Just in case that statement grinds against your brand new Christmas sweater, remember that Christ was never known for what he owned, but for actually telling others to go, sell everything they owned…yeah EVERYTHING…and follow him. American hypocrisy knows no bounds. Truly, the more I ponder on the distinct dichotomy of “Christians” vs. Christ, the less I believe they actually read his words.
Apologies for the length, sometimes I wax poetic at the crumbling of society (joke…mostly).
It is the summation of these thoughts that brings me back to a concept I’ve used to loosen the grasp modern life has upon me. Minimalism.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have nice things. It’s nice to give nice things, but for our ADHD brains, is it healthy? I also mean minimalism in a broader sense of how one lives one’s life. So yes, on the one hand, I believe firmly that life is easier with less, but not just less things – less unimportant relationships; less clutter in our homes, in our lives, and in our heads.
In discussion with a friend of mine recently, we realized that each of us only had a few true friends on which we could completely rely; with whom we could truly be ourselves, with whom we’d rather spend a thousand nights over 1 night with 1,000 acquaintances. Less, is certainly more.
Think about Christ and those who lived in his time. Shoot, think about those who lived 150 years ago. How many items of clothing do you suppose the average person had? If you guessed anywhere above 3, you’re probably wrong.
I get it. ADHD heightens our emotionality, and thus we connect with things on a deeper level, but what if you left it all behind today? How much of it would you actually miss? Without looking around you, think of the things that, if you had to completely walk away from your life today…all of it…what would you miss?
I’m going to start with people. Those we love are worth more of the sum of the things they own or we give them. You may have a few other truly sentimental things you’d want to bring with you, but would they be the endless stream of clothing the retail world pushes upon us?
“The things you own begin to own you.” Yes that is Tyler Durden, and yes that is the guy from Fight Club, but I’m cool enough to drop such badassery in my writing.
I’m also cool enough to bring up Marie Kondo’s concept of things that spark joy in your life. So keep the old Grateful Dead T-shirt, because it holds memories for you, and stop buying new t-shirts until that shirt starts getting holes or stains. No, I don’t believe you have to look like a homeless person, but I do believe that we all could go with less.
I could fit my entire life (and some of someone else’s life) in my coupe. My car is tiny. Yes, my life demands that I have some nicer clothes if I have to give a talk or go to a wedding. But other than that, it’s amazing what you can pull off with just a few items.
So, for clarity, this is not meant to make anyone feel bad about their lives and how cluttered they can be. It is however, a challenge to see what exactly you really do need.
Many studies show that spending money on experiences with others is a far better use of money than buying them a bottle of wine, or a new plant, or whatever.
Addressing ADHD again briefly, but also anyone else interested, longitudinal studies also show that connection with others is the most effective way to predict longevity. Meaning if you are well connected to a community or just a few friends, you’re far more likely to live a long life, and keep wearing that Grateful Dead T-shirt.
So this season: don’t sweat the small stuff. Who gives a crap about thank you notes, or even sending out Christmas cards? Who cares what you’re wearing or that you look a little rough today. Is it not ok to have a rough day? The right people don’t care about such things. If they make mention of your look, it should only be if they are concerned about your wellbeing, and don’t give a crap about how you’re dressing.
Give yourself the grace to be the beautiful ADHD brain you are. And simplify your life. If your brain is constantly working overtime, the last thing it needs is the added stress of holidays that have been taken over by consumerism and the commodification of all things good. Spend time with people who give you peace and energy, and let people go who drain you.
Leave the frivolities behind, and focus on what is important to you. Everything else is just people pleasing, another ADHD trait that trips us up all the time. You are enough. You were before the holidays, and you will remain to be so long after.