“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.
It’s that time of the year. The most celebrated festivals in India are upon us. But they are not the ones we are looking forward to. What else then?
We are eagerly waiting for the Great Indian Festival sale and The Big Billion Day sale. How the times have changed?!
As a culture we have become so obsessed about owning more stuff, it is quite remarkable.
Today we have become a consumer culture.
We want to own every piece of gadget released. We want to own the latest phone, even though the one we have right now works just fine! Anything less is not gonna cut it.
We want to wear the latest fashion trend to get approval from our friends & even strangers!
The e-commerce companies know this and they play on our consumer mentality. They make advertisements, create campaigns and market the product in such a way that we get sucked into the whole buying culture.
Have you ever wondered – do we need all this stuff? why do we buy so much stuff in the first place? who are we trying to impress?
Why having more stuff does not make us happy?
Many of us think that owning more stuff will make us happy. “If I get that new iPhone, then I will be happy”, “If I just have that new car, I will be on top of this world!”.
The problem with this mindset is that we are always associating our happiness with some material things. So if that stuff is not with us, then we cannot be happy.
But it’s quite the opposite. Disconnecting yourself with most of the material things will make your mind peaceful.
Having more things will create anxiety in your life.
Owning more things will weigh down your mind so much, you will not be able to have space for more important things in life.
Having fewer things in your life will free up your mind and allow you to look past the materialistic world.
Numerous people have experienced quite abundant freedom by getting rid of excess stuff in their lives.
Instead of materialism and consumerism, people look for experiences.
1. Be a minimalist
There is a wrong notion with many of us about minimalism. Minimalism does not mean relinquishing everything you have and living in an empty house!
Author Ramit Sethi describes Minimalism as a lifestyle choice wherein you spend lavishly on items you truly care about and cutting back relentlessly on stuff you don’t care about.
By being a minimalist, you make sure that only the right things – the things you care about and need the most remain with you and the rest are thrown out.
This will give you more freedom in life to pursue other important things. You will not have to worry about your stuff all the time.
2. Stop impulsive purchases
It is so easy to buy any item today because of the convenience technology has provided.
But if we are not careful with our purchases, then we may end up buying a lot of stuff which we do not even require.
We browse the shopping apps on our phones so much today, it’s no wonder we make impulsive purchases. When we see that glossy new item on the app, we feel the need to have it and we press on that “Buy Now” button.
It’s like we don’t have any control over our shopping habits.
The next time you want to purchase an item online, add it to your shopping cart. Do not buy it instantly. After 3-4 days, if you still think you need it, you can buy that item.
And it turns out, many a time you don’t even need that item.
3. Do not make shopping an escape
Many people tend to go shopping whenever they feel sad or bored or some other feeling. This is a really bad idea!
When your emotions are not under your control, it is easy to throw logic out of the window. You go to the mall and come back with a hand full of bags filled with stuff you don’t even want.
Instead of this, go for a long walk and try to deal with the actual problem. You don’t have to make shopping an escape route.
In addition to this, allocate some percentage of money in your monthly budget for shopping. By doing this you can shop the allocated amount guilt-free.
“People buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like.” – Clive Hamilton, Growth Fetish
There are many statistics and surveys available which articulates the ill effects of materialism and consumerism.
Many people are house poor.
The things we own crave a lot of attention from us. We spend a lot of time on things and not enough time with the people in our lives.
We care too much about what other people think about us and in the process, we try to impress them. We want to keep up with the Joneses and consume goods like no other generation before.
I am not asking you to renounce everything, go to a monastery and become a monk. I would rather ask you to be mindful of your consumer behavior.
We all need things. But it would be foolish of us to let the things we own define us. We have to grow out of the materialistic mindset.
We live in a society, and human beings love recognition. It’s a good feeling when someone recognizes you.
The question is – would you rather be recognized for the qualities in you or for the things you own?