How we consume

or why minimalism is so much more than neatly styled shelves for Instagram

minimalism

In the past I’ve often thought about “decluttering” my belongings – mostly when spring cleaning was around the corner and I groaned at all the stuff I had accumulated that just didn’t seem to fit back into shelves and closets. Those thoughts were usually very short lived though, because the truth is I’m a hopeless hoarder with a great love for cute and pretty things.

The first turning point was when we actually didn’t have the money to afford new knick-knack, let alone new clothes or much else for that matter. Suddenly, whenever I stood in a store I would ask myself “Do I really need this sweater/shirt/jeans?” and most of the time I came to the realization that I already had said item in my closet and just wanted to buy something new because I liked the look of it or because I felt like I should buy it “just to be safe”.

The second thing I realized was a much more uncomfortable truth though – the feeling when I wanted to buy something I didn’t really need but ended up leaving the store without it because I couldn’t afford it. It was a nasty feeling and it shook me to the core.

When did I let consumption control me so much?

The truth is that we live in a society where we can buy anything and everything at any given time, even though we don’t really need it.

Here’s a little test: think about the stores in your city, or think about one of your favourite stores – how many of the items they sell are actually necessary for your everyday life? Chances are that the percentage is startling low, and that’s where our society has taken a wrong turn.

Don’t get me wrong, I love knick-knack – I love decorations and notebooks and pencils and I love that we can brighten our days and decorate our homes – the real problem starts when we let that control us. When our happiness begins to depend on our consumption. When we argue ourselves into buying something, even though our mind tells us we don’t really need it.
When we leave the store with a bad feeling because we didn’t buy something.

The truth is, we don’t need much, and more often than not we should ask ourselves if we really need something new or if our closets aren’t already full enough.

Decluttering your life, choosing minimalism, or simply deciding to stop consuming so much, is deciding to clean your home and ultimately cleaning your mind and detaching your happiness from objects. It means being able to go into a store and not buy a ton of unnecessary things just because they’re pretty or new.

These days I buy less and whenever I need something new I mentally go through a few questions:

  1. Do I really need this item or do I just want it because it’s comfortable/pretty/new?
  2. Will it replace an old item or is the old item still okay?
  3. How long will I really like/need it?

And last but not least I give it time. Unless it is an urgent purchase I like to let a few days or weeks pass to see if an item still holds my interest then – spoiler alert: most of the time it doesn’t and the interest passes, but if I still want it I will be even happier to finally have it!

Minimalism isn’t easy, and it surely doesn’t mean you have to throw away everything you own to have less in your shelves and closet, but it does mean mindful shopping, being aware of how your consumption influences our environment and most importantly it means finding happiness in experiences and other people and not in the things we buy or own!

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