March 24, 2017

Happy To Not Buy Anything

My Not Purchasing Process - "I don't need it, and feel better without it."


Spending money can trigger a rush of happy chemicals in the brain yielding a high that has been compared to that after taking cocaine or crystal meth. For most people shopping provides a boost of brain juices and a warm fuzzy feeling results. What about the opposite?

Can not shopping give the same kind of boost of happiness as the joy of unbridled acquisition?

Psychologists and neuromarketing specialists have discovered more about the workings of the brain in the past two decades than the rest of history combined. Much of it has been used against us. New discoveries have aided our health, but have also been used to manipulate our spending habits.

Research has shown that the neurotransmitters such as dopamine are released when people shop. Can not buying anything achieve the same result? Unsurprisingly, I don't think any research has been done in this area, except perhaps my own personal data collection.

What I have found out is hardly new or original. Not buying things you don't need does lead to happy chemicals in the brain. Many visitors to this blog know this little secret.

One reader here commented,

"Its a strange feeling that not spending makes me feel more liberated." Or another shares the realization that, "the deeper I get into this, the less I need anything."

Another reader admits,

"As soon as I quit [needless shopping] I started finding myself focusing on all the wonderful things I already have, and what a blessing it is."  

Erin posted while not shopping for Christmas, and said, 

"I have not set foot in one store in the past few months and it is awesome to sit back and relax...no need to feel pressure or strain over "having" to buy."

These do not sound like unhappy people to me.

Dopamine is released when we approach a goal. That could be as we approach the cash register with a giant wide screen plasma internet-ready television balanced on a shopping cart, or it could be meeting a personal goal of shopping less and enjoying life more.

One of the best ways to restore low endorphin levels is to live a simple life. In a slower world with more time it is easier to meet the conditions required for the natural production of happy brain neurotransmitters.

When we have the time to notice the beauty around us, we don't have to turn to unhealthy methods for eliciting happy chemicals in our brains. Like consumerism.

We can be happy and content not buying anything.








March 22, 2017

Billboard Activism

R. Crumb illustration from "The Monkey Wrench Gang", Edward Abbey


I don't know of anyone that wants more billboards spread across the landscape. If anything, they would like fewer. But what about the ones that are already there?

You could burn them up, or cut them down, as in Edward Abbey's book, "The Monkey Wrench Gang". The group did "routine neighbourhood beautification projects, burning billboards along the highway 66". But I don't recommend it.

The free speech accorded to the advertising industry is fiercely protected to the full extent of the law so they can infect you with mind parasites that cause you to want to buy, buy, buy. Or conform. Or be afraid. Or hate this or that. Skin tags are the latest villain.

Or you could become a billboard artist/activist.

Take Jennifer Bolande, whose temporary artwork transforms a series of consecutive billboards in the desert landscape near Palm Springs, CA with photos of the landscapes they are blocking.

Each photograph is unique to its position along this route and at a certain point as one drives by, perfect alignment with the horizon occurs, revealing the beauty the billboard has blocked. It's a beautification project that reminds us of the damage done by the in-your-face advertising blighting highway sides that the wilderness-loving Edward Abbey disliked so deeply.


"Visible Distance/Second Sight" billboard art by Jennifer Bolande, image by Lance Gerber Studio


Or you could engage in a bit of billboard hacktavism such as during the run-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21). Street artists, working with the group Brandalism, altered ads in 600 European billboards, taking aim at global-warming denial and the corporate forces opposing climate action.





"Following on in the guerrilla art traditions of the 20th Century and taking inspiration from Agitprop, Situationist and Street Art movements, the Brandalism project sees artists from around the world collaborate to challenge the authority and legitimacy of commercial images within public space and within our culture. 
All the artwork is unauthorized and unsigned. This is not a project of self-promotion, and none of the artists names… or websites appear on the works: we believe there are already enough private interests taking ownership of our streets."                             
- from Brandalism website







Billboard activism - not as risky as burning or cutting them down, and possibly more impact through positive messages. I'm putting my gas can and chain saw away, and taking my art supplies out.

But I'm not turning in my honorary Monkey Wrench card.











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