So as we are heading into the holiday season I think this is a good time to discuss consumerism. Are society is based around capitalism and consumerism. Buying goods fuels the economy and if you think about it, the main reason most people work is to buy other things. People work at a mindless job, then go home and buy things they hardly ever use. But, how can we avoid buying things that we never, ever use?
At the beginning of this year I went on a minimalism tear. Following The Minimalists advice of placing everything in your room into boxes and then over the next few weeks only taking out what you need. At first it will seem like you are taking everything out, but when you near the end of those two or three weeks you will hardly be taking anything out. Once I finished my three weeks I took all of the stuff in the boxes that I didn't use and went through it. Some stuff I kept, but I did get rid of a majority of stuff that I just never used.
The doctrine of minimalism is very important to me. As a minimalist runner I only run in sandals. And trying to be more minimalist at home I am constantly trying to pair down what I have.
After the purge I did of all that stuff my whole workflow and overall enjoyment of my room increased dramatically. But I knew that to keep that sense of minimalism pure, I couldn't revert back to my old habits and buy a ton of stuff. Stuff that I only like a little bit or thought was cool. Buying stuff that I didn't absolutely love. And I think that is a key tool to helping decide if you should buy it or not. It is a trick that I learned from my mom and she always throws it out when I'm conflicted on if I should buy something or not. That philosophy has really helped me in the months since that minimalistic purge. I may go to a store and see a shirt that looks really cool, but I stop and think first. I ask myself, "How many times will you actually wear this Jarod?" "Do you LOVE it?" And most of the time the answer is I won't wear it all that much and I don't actually LOVE it.
But, in those few moments between seeing the product and heading with your money to the cash register (or of course if you're buying online the same concept applies). Anyways in those few moments you have to stay present and make some decisions. The product could be anything from something frivolous like a 4K TV or to something vital to your lifestyle like a new meditation pillow. But, whatever it is you must ask yourself those questions. How often will you use the 4K TV? Probably a lot. But will you love it? Maybe. When you ask yourself these questions however, you must also know your lifestyle enough to ask other questions, too. In the example of the 4K TV the other question you must ask yourself is, "Will this fit logically into my life?" What I mean by that is can you pay for it comfortably? Will it bring you actual happiness and entertainment or will the TV you have now work just as good? Will it be something that you can be proud of? If all of the answers to these questions are positive then by all means buy it! But, you must always be honest with yourself when it comes to consumerism.
The ideals of consumerism can become like a disease, and a extremely virulent one at that, that can overtake your whole being in a very short amount of time. So you must be careful and also know what you already own. Sometimes the new fangled thing everyone is talking about is just a more expensive replacement for something that you already have that will work just as well or even better.
When you are shopping you must also keep an eye out for badly made products. Sometimes the product you are considering buying may seem gilded and beautifully functional on the outside, but on the inside it is broken and worthless. One great way to assuage this issue is to read reviews. This is a common tactic in my buying habits and one that aids me greatly. The reviews, especially on sites like Amazon, help in your buying decisions immensely. Like I said, the product may seem well made, but it really isn't and reviews will help you determine that. While it isn't a perfect system of course, it is simply one step more to helping you decide whether you should purchase something or not.
In our advertisement filled society it is easy to be overwhelmed and subsequently sucked right into the colorful and flashy ads that we see on a daily basis which entice you to buy things that are worthless to you and your journey. While it may seem stupid to apply mindfulness to commercials and ads, it is actually a very viable tool. When you are getting a little to close to buying a product you saw that you know is worthless to you or if the advertisements in your life are a little bit to overwhelming. Simply take a deep breath. Nothing more, nothing less. Feel the breath enter your nostrils, then expand your stomach and chest, then exit your body, and tickling your nose. There are a lifetime of sensations held within a single breath and you must find them. This tool can be used in any situation, at any time, and it will save you from those stupid decisions, overwhelming choices, and stress of our society.
So go out this holiday season and remember what I talked about here:
-Get rid of things you never use!
-Ask yourself if you truly love the product and how often you will actually use it.
-Be flexible to ask yourself other questions, too.
Thank you as always! And enjoy.