Sunday, March 2, 2014

More __________ Does not Equal More Happiness

On March 14, 2011, my life drastically changed. On that day, my husband bought me a kindle. Soon after that day, greed subtly arose in my life. It did not look evil. It did not look sinister, but it took a hold of my life. My kindle whispered that there were MORE books to have, MORE games to play, MORE to possess to be happy.

In recent years, I have learned to love the fifth verse of the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews.

Keep your lives free from the love of money 
and be content with what you have, 
because God has said, 
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

This verse resonates strongly with me, probably because of my kindle. You see, there are a TON of free books on the kindle. Some are always free, but many are only free in a short window of time. There is considerable pressure to “BUY” it now, while it is free, before it costs money again. There is pressure to “buy” now & figure out if I actually want it later. There is a desire to “buy” books I wish I wanted to read, to “motivate” me to take interest in ________ subject.

I fell into the trap of not taking time to decide if I really wanted a book. I just clicked the “buy now with one click” and went on my way. Like an addict, I would go on “buying” binges where I would “buy” a hundred books at once.

I rationalized that they were free today, so it was better to “buy” it now. I rationalized that my hoarding of books was not detrimental, because there were no piles in my house, no obvious danger signs. I rationalized that I had only bought (and paid money) for 32 books (actually 45, but I returned 13 of them for refunds because I did not really like them), so I was doing a really good job.

I realized that I spent more time downloading & organizing my free books then I spent reading. I spent more time agonizing over which book to start reading next then I did reading. I was overwhelmed in choices & stressed out by my inability to choose.

After binging and stressing, I started the purges. I would ruthlessly cut away & delete books that I deemed uninteresting. I deleted books with offensive language. I deleted and deleted and it felt good to do so.

Over the course 1,085 days (or 2 years, 11 months, & 17 days), I have  “bought” 2,802 kindle books. Of those, I have kept 227 of them. Two-Hundred and Twenty-Seven. I kept 8.1% of the books I downloaded to my kindle. 2011 was my worst year in my-book-buying-is-out-of-control-to-the-point-of-being-ridiculous. I “bought” 1,888 books, but today, I only have 45 of them. That is 2.38%. I significantly calmed down in 2012; I only “bought” 328 books. Today, I have 9.15%, which is 30 books. In 2013, I found more websites listing free books. I “bought” 478 books, but I have kept 103 of them (21.55%). My percentage of books kept per books “bought” has increased and I started to exercise more care in which I bought. So far in 2014, I have “bought” 108 books, yet I only have 49 of them (45.37%) after my latest purge.

For me, I seek out new kindle books when I am stressed. When I am uncertain of the future or the outcome of a specific event, I get on Amazon. I get on my sites listing free books and start “buying”. When I am stressed, I do not take the time to decide if I really want a book. I just verify that it is free.

The bottom line is this: more ______ (e-books for example), does not equal more happiness. In my life, more actually caused more stress. Hebrews 13:5 speaks to me. It is a warning. It is advice. When I go on “buying” binges, I am not content with what I have. When I go on deleting purges, I am not happy; I am ashamed. When I rationalize away over-shopping because it is free, I am loving money, yet being stingy.

Keep your life free from the love of money.
Be content with what you have.

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