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Mindful Consumption

(A Human-Minded Practice)

Becoming more Human-minded is ultimately a process of becoming more aware and mindful of our behaviors and how we can change them so that our choices positively impact the world around us instead of intentionally or unintentionally harming it.

Similar to eating and procreating, consumption is a “survival” activity that is often governed by our reptilian mind. When we are shopping out of an instinctual drive toward greater security through the accumulation of food and things and making our “choices”1 based on habit, routine, and familiarity, you can be sure we are acting from a reptilian mind.

However, this does not have to be the case. Learning to consume more mindfully is a highly accessible way to develop our Human mind. By practicing more mindful choices2 about what we buy, we can activate our Human mind and teach it to govern our consumption so that our buying (and eating) is no longer driven by an instinct for survival. What we consume can become a part of how we express love for the world and the people and animals living in it.

This means choosing food, clothing, and other possessions that do not cause harm at any stage of the production cycle, as much as possible. For example, select clothing that does not come from a sweatshop. If you choose to eat animal products, look for those that are humanely-raised and slaughtered.

It also means buying based on a true appreciation of the item or an actual need, rather than marketing or fleeting desire. Reducing our consumption overall is one of the best steps we can take for the environment, which in turn improves life for all living beings–a prime motivator for the Human mind.

For more tips on how to consume mindfully, we recommend Jenni Gritters’s article, “How to Build a Life Based On Intentional, Mindful Consumption.”

As an added benefit, only our Human mind can truly appreciate what we purchase. When we shop from our reptilian mind, we are not conscious of how our behavior positively impacts us, so we gain no additional well-being from our purchases. But when we buy only what we truly appreciate and need, from a place of awareness, knowing we are selecting fair trade items that benefit those who produce them, then we can gain joy from our mindful purchases.

  1. In this reptilian-minded consuming state, what we may think of as choices we are making are not conscious choices at all, but instinctual behaviors done without awareness.
  2. Which actually are conscious choices when the Human mind is engaged

2 replies on “Mindful Consumption”

A need for mindful consumption is, at least, in part due to the mindless production of consumer goods. I think it would be as difficult for the producers to become mindful as it would be on the consumers’ side.

Very good point! Sadly, our capitalist system encourages producers to be mindless (meaning putting profit above the effect their products have on people and the environment) as much as it encourages mindless consumption. Fortunately, just as with mindful consumers, we do see some producers who recognize a better way, and our job is to find and support them. Of course, mindful producers are rare because the system encourages the greedy to go into business, whereas the compassionate are constantly swimming against the current to get their business off the ground.

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