I stopped in at my local shopping centre today to purchase one new book to buy by Rob Bell. I went to the bookstore, ordered my book, left the store and walked out the shopping centre doors with no extra browsing or purchases.
When was the last time you went into a shopping centre with a list and walked out with more on that list? Could you justify that extra purchase? Was it something that you knew you needed or what it just shiny and new?
The only justification I gave to my impulse purchases was that I saw it, I wanted it, I bought it. Actually, it didn’t feel any need to justify them. It was just “what you do.” Our Western culture and media have been built around these three words.
I’m not saying that consumption is bad, not at all. We all need to consume things to survive. Consume food to nourish our bodies, consume clothing to stay warm but it’s when our consumption becomes automatic, unmonitored and impulsive it becomes stressful and unsustainable.
I used to be stressed by my excess and the overwhelming choice of my belongings. What do I wear to today? What’s the weather like? Oh no, this sweater is too warm. I’ll melt with that on. But what if it cools down later? But that doesn’t match with my boots? Damn, I’ll have to get brown ankle boots because this sweater doesn’t match the black ones. Okay, add that to the list. I’ll just wear these sneakers instead…
Even after all that 15 to 45-minutes of inner dialogue (not kidding, 45-minutes) I would still walk out of the house, unsatisfied, unconfident, hating my outfit and mentally chastising myself for my lack of style with a “Great, now I look ugly today. What is everyone going to think?”. I consumed things I didn’t need, with money I should have been saving, to impress people that I wasn’t fond of and who (honestly) really didn’t care what I was wearing.
I once wore the same grey-black hoodie for seven days in a row to see what would happen. (Yes, it is possible, you won’t spontaneously combust from lack of style! Minimalist’s honour!) Sure, it needed a wash afterwards, but not one of my friends and family said anything. If they noticed, they didn’t show it. Because no one really cares! (Sensing the pattern?)
Now my closest is full of what most fashion bloggers would describe as “basics”. But everything I do own and wear, I love. It takes a simple three happy minutes to get dressed, all my outfits flatter me, I look and feel confident and I don’t have to do a month’s worth of washing in six hours! (Lifehack!)
Not saying that I’m perfect, far from it. I’m still a practising minimalist and I am working on it every day. I’m still finding odds-and-ends to throw away and still reciting my mantra at shopping centres “Will purchasing this item add value to my life and give me joy using it?”
It won’t always work, sometimes I still come home with my multiple coloured plastic (and non-biodegradeable) bags thinking “Why did I buy this? I won’t use that. What was I thinking?” My bedside drawer full of about a dozen plastic bags to use for my waste paper bin.
Just one day and one baby step at a time. Developing my own Minimalism template and moulding it to my lifestyle.