I recently read Living Large by Sarah Wexler---a book about how bigger isn't always better when it comes to many areas of our lives.
The entire book was marvelous; however, two parts in particular stood out to me:
"Welcome to 'Affluenza.' PBS did a special on the modern condition, defining it as 'the bloated, sluggish, and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses; an epidemic of stress, overwork, waste, and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream; an unsustainable addiction to economic growth" (147).
Followed later by...
"Who says that going smaller---whether it means trading your SUV for a compact or two people moving from a six-bedroom home to a town house---has to be a step down? It could be a way to live a more streamlined life, but one where its content and experiences are more greatly appreciated" (219).
It seems that there is a turn back toward the simple---crafting, cooking homemade meals, gardening, recycling/reusing/repurposing, shopping sales, donating. I love to say "no," get rid of things I don't need or use, and find a great deal. Cooking homemade meals for my family brings me joy. Watching my daughter, Miss E, play with a toilet paper roll or a large, empty box makes me smile. She is imaginative and gets joy from simple pleasures.
It is so hard to fight current culture. I love Facebook, blogging, and texting. But these things tend to say "look at me!" and take the focus off God, family, and true, healthy, fulfilling relationships. I do want a big house full of modern amenities---but that would require us to work more, spending less time with our children. Wexler is right---Americans, generally, are so "bloated." And we keep feeding ourselves the things which do not fulfill, and we know they don't fulfill, yet we keep doing it. Isn't that the definition of insanity?
I admire the many families who are "right sizing." (The economy has forced us to rethink and revise----and I'm not sure that's a bad thing). Getting back to what matters, saying "no" to what doesn't---well, that's tough, but in the end, is wonderfully fulfilling.
My suggestion is to make monthly goals in order to back away from the things that make you and your family "bloated." For me, it started in January when I gave up my beloved online adoption forum. I would get overly involved in heart wrenching topics or sometimes ridiculous mommy-wars of who-does-it-best. So I gave it up. I decided to focus my time and energy on parenting my babies instead of talking about parenting. In February, I set a goal of one hour a day online, which included e-mail, blogging, FB, etc. This goal aided me in creating more time for play with my girls, reading, baking, praying, and face-to-face fun like play dates.
So find out what makes you temporarily happy but in reality, bloated. And then change! It's easier than you think, and the results are simply divine!