We are living in a time of excess. There is a ‘new this’ or ‘new that’ at each commercial break, and we have convinced ourselves that we need all of these things to be complete. This is really where we’ve gone wrong; we’ve become so clouded by all of our ‘stuff’ that we’re missing the true meaning of life, which I believe is to see the beauty in places and people, contribute to a better future for subsequent generations, and experience the many relationships that you’ll have with family, friends, and partners.
This is why we all could benefit from becoming minimalist. The word need not make you think of a black and white room devoid of homey touches. It should instill a sense of peace and fulfillment–feeling happy with what you have and the ability to let go of the desire to hoard more. Below I’ve listed 5 ways you can reduce consumption.
1. Get some houseplants. This may sound like an obscure suggestion, but featuring anything from a cactus to a cyclamen in a prominent part of your home is literally a breath of fresh air. These organisms don’t bark or need bathing, but live quietly and with ease. They are a reminder of our beautiful planet and grow and change with time as we do. Meaningless clutter becomes an eyesore next to a beautiful plant, so these green beings will keep you in check.
2. One in, one out. Unless you’ve just moved into a house for the first time and are starting from scratch, you should operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy in your home. This means, if you buy something new, it should be as a replacement for something faulty which can be disposed of, or as an upgrade to something else. Give that other thing away to charity. This has completely changed my consumption habits; if I’m debating a new purchase, I remember that something will have to go if I want to incorporate it into my home. This is particularly relevant for me in the cosmetics, clothing and kitchenware departments.
3. Experiences over items. Make it your goal to only buy gifts in the form of experiences. A nice new watch may bring a smile for a while, but the gift of a day spent together at a concert or event will live forever in the receiver’s heart. There may be exceptions to this for certain gifts you want to give this year, but when you’ve got a time to give and you aren’t sure what to hand over, I encourage you to consider the gift of your time.
4. Become a master. Pick a hobby that you enjoy and perfect that skill. The result of mental stimulation and education is the process of expansion. These challenges keep us interested and focused on learning a new skill. Part of the problem we have with consumption now is that we’re trying to fill the sense of restlessness and meaninglessness, with anything and everything that promises us happiness and contentment. It is only after our bank accounts are drained and our homes overflow with clutter that we realize these things just don’t do that for us. You are best off investing your time and money in mastering an activity through which your creative abilities can be expressed.
5. Let the bedroom be. We have the world in our palm or pocket throughout the day, every day, and while smartphones bring us many wonderful things, the ability to be present is not one of them. Whatever your situation or circumstance, try your best to make your bedroom a tech-free zone. Get a regular alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, and spend the time before you go to sleep reading a book, meditating, writing a journal or with your partner. The world via all of its social media platforms will still be there in the morning.
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Photo: Kat Kennedy