TV commercials, unsolicited mail, ads infiltrating our emails, advertisements invading our legitimate online searches, subtle propaganda (or not so subtle), luxurious catalogues, unrequested promotions via cell phone or telephone–these things clamor for our attention, interrupt what we’re doing, push aside our personal or business work. They want something from us. The senders feel no qualms about taking our thought, time, and money. Greed drives them. They entice us to follow, buy, support, subscribe to whatever they are selling for their own benefit. Luring (and sometimes warping) our decision-making, they worm their way into our pocketbooks by telling us what we want that we really don’t want or need. How easily we can get caught up in their enticements.
It requires constant clear-sighted thinking to avoid these pitfalls. Only when we are unsure of ourselves do we capitulate to manipulation. But we are capable of keeping our thought free of invasion by not forgetting who we are, or what we value, or what our goals are, or what we care about, or what we honestly need and don’t need.
I saw a dress I really liked in a beautiful catalogue that came some weeks ago. A lovely summer creation with eyelet and lace available in either white or teal, the latter one of my favorite colors. I was tempted to order it. That it cost $159 gave me pause. Then I took time to think it through. Where would I wear it? Did I really need it? Would the money be better saved or spent on something more essential? As a rule, I wait twenty-four hours before I order anything–that gives the potential purchase time to seem necessary or not. One of my favorite sentences I say to myself is “Can I live without it?” After twenty-four hours I decided I could live without the dress. I have a closet full of lovely dresses I’ve had for 5, 10, 15, or more years, all arty and interesting enough to still make me happy when I put them on.
Certainly, the purchase of a beautiful dress is not evil! But to rationally think through all choices we make with clear-thinking is essential. Deciding what is important usually comes in quiet moments. Taking time daily to think deeply about what one values regarding self, family, home, work, community, environment, and world–and one’s place, role, efforts toward good goals in this regard–prevents thought-intrusions and unwise influences from taking hold. Focused on good, it is easy to detect anything invasively bad and reject it. It’s like the biblical verse in Phillipians 4:8: Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Now my example here is not a warning that all lovely dresses in beautiful catalogues should be avoided! We may just as likely find a perfect dress and buy it after clear-thinking. What we purchase can be an inspired choice. But when thoughts sneak up to tempt us into buying something we don’t need or doing something not in our best interest, we can toss the thought, the junk mail, or pop-up commercials, and remind ourselves of the freedom that’s ours when we stick with what really matters.
Portrait of a Lady, pastel, framed, approx. 22″ x 30″. Long ago I did this portrait of a posed model in one of my favorite mediums for portraiture–pastel–because of its soft, malleable quality and wide array of hues.