How do you live simply when consumer season is in full swing?
Recently I've been reading this book by Marie Kondo. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up does just that - it transforms your life through a super easy approach to tidying. Based on the Japanese art of decluttering and organising, Marie's key message is simple: Only keep the things that spark joy in your life. I have found this message and her approach to be profound in a number of ways (I'll share the goodness in a blog post of it's own later on). Ultimately it has made me so much more aware of how much stuff I surround myself with that I don't need, want or enjoy. I realise that it's my time to start living simpler.
Understanding how little we really need to get by and how much we consume, I am now on a personal journey to simplify. Perhaps that's why today (Black Friday a.k.a. rush out and buy buy buy day) is hitting a nerve. Before I get started I will say that today's entry is not about making anyone feel bad or condemning shopping! Not at all. It is about broadening your awareness to some alternatives that might seriously help you and your wellbeing out during silly season and beyond.
Making the lifestyle and consumer choices you want to because you're aware, rather than acting because you've been brainwashed by adverts has to be a good thing - right?
If you were planning to get something you or someone else needs - do it! Generously gifting someone special with something thoughtful? Be my guest! My issue is not with any of that but with the ugly escalation of consumerism starting now and fading out (only slightly) somewhere in late January, that tells us that we NEED to buy more stuff in order to be happy or to make others happy. This season is so focussed on pressuring us to worship material goods. It all makes me rather uncomfortable, and sad, to see a time opportune for experiences of connection and love to be overshadowed by greed, money and accumulating more stuff.
Science tells us that materialistic people aren't happy. They have have poorer quality relationships, lower life satisfaction, increased risk of depression and less empathy towards others and the environment. Those who can't afford to keep up ... feel stressed, those who compare themselves to others .... feel inadequate and those who seek happiness through material goods ... feel miserable.
I get it. It's hard to live simply when faced with the daily pressure to have more.
But by living simply you will have more ... more time, space, clarity, connection, gratitude and awareness. And that's way better than anything you could grab in the sale. Trust me.
What's the alternative to all of the hype? Practicing mindfulness is a great place to start. Connecting to the present moment and tapping into your awareness of what's driving you to consume will help you make those choices from a much clearer place. Next is to make a conscious choice to live more simply.
Connecting to others who want to avoid the same traps as you will help. A British campaign seeks to counteract today's hyper-consumerism with a day of shopping detox called Buy Nothing Day. It asks that we turn our attention to connecting with others, not with more stuff. To shop less and live more. How refreshing! At a time of year when we are utterly bombarded with marketing messages to buy more spend more have more, counter movements like this are popping up here there and everywhere. These campaigns urge people to focus simply on experiencing something good and appreciating what you have, rather than spending more money you don't have on things you don't need in a frenzied "shopocalypse". Hurrah!
Check out Marie Kondo and her wonderful book if you want to embark on a transformational journey of decluttering with me by living simply and letting go. Along the way you fall back in love with your belongings and become super grateful for the (fewer) things that you surround yourself with *Hint* the transformation goes way beyond the contents of your closet ... and even your home!
I hope I have sparked your thinking about how you can live more simply this season and beyond. I'd love you to share your thoughts, challenges and inspiration with me in the comments below ...