The effects of not being honest about your lifestyle
“What consumerism really is, at its worst, is getting people to buy things that don’t actually improve their lives.”
— Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon
These days, there seems to be something new bulging out of the shadows every time we look around. Bigger screens. Faster processors. More features. The world we live in today is unmistakably innovative, which is good.
But with this presence of ingenuity comes the temptation to drool after things we don’t really need. Things that don’t contribute significant value to our lives or anyone else’s for that matter.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve come to associate the word new with need. And we’ve fallen in love with the dark side of consumerism.
Every ad seems to tug at our hearts just a little more, showcasing that phone with better face recognition, those shoes with better designs, or that car with fancier doors that open vertically (you’ve always dreamed of driving one with your pack of so-called friends you’d come to meet; who could probably care less about you and more about the fact that they’re riding around in a luxuriously expensive automobile).
Here’s the thing: we are all products of our surroundings. There is no escaping that. But for the most part, we’ve merely settled with that reality alone, neglecting to see the other side of the same coin and doing something about it.
Addressing the Issue
You’ve probably heard or seen this word before, either while watching another YouTube video or scrolling down your social media feed. It’s notoriously known as minimalism.
This movement has sparked a strong following as of late. At its core, minimalism targets the compulsive desire to add on or hoard thingamajigs and whatchamacallits that constrict us from living the meaningfully productive lives we were designed to live.
Loads of people nowadays are adopting this title as their new way of life, documenting all the subsequent changes they’ve made along the way. Because of this, there’s a good reason to assume that people are starting to take responsibility for their lifestyles.
Every day, for the past year or so, I’d pulled my planner out and jot down a to-do list for the following day. Sometimes I would even do it for the following week, depending on how busy I was. The tasks were simple, nothing out of the ordinary.
This particular week was different, though.
While taking a break from a few class assignments that needed to be completed, I tabbed over to YouTube. It just so happened that one of the recommended videos was about minimalism and how to be more productive and creative—game-changer!
For the first time in my life, I started looking around at all the gadgets and gizmos, all the “top” purchases of the past sitting dormant in the place I called home. Immediately I felt the urge to do something I never had the guts to do before.
Along with the other imperatives — like read chapter 5 of such-and-such, respond to so-and-so’s email, go for a run — I added:
Get rid of all the crap you don’t need.
Is It Really That Serious?
Now, I’m not saying you should go around calling all the items you own “crap.” That would be unhealthy and perhaps something you’d come to regret later on in life.
I’m just saying you should ask yourself questions that get to the root cause of why you have what you have, and why you crave after the things you come across so often.
This realization causes us to be honest about the choices we have made and are making today. It places us in front of a mirror of evaluation so that we can analyze ourselves and our stuff. But when we downplay the concept of minimalism, we open ourselves up to the pressures of a buy-more society we’ve all come to know.
Don’t get me wrong, there are folks out there who prescribe to a strict perception of what a minimalist’s lifestyle should look like, judging others by it in ways that are completely unnecessary.
You can only have this amount of socks. Your shirts should never have words on them. Is that a colorful picture on the wall?
A mindset like this begs the question, “Is it really that serious?” And the short answer is no.
Think about someone who is about to retire and wants to be more intentional about how to live. Their process would look a lot different than the single guy just graduating from college. So assuming your way of pursuing minimalism is the best way is taking it too far.
However, there is still work to do.
I don’t mean to make this sound easy. It’s not. It may be one of the hardest decisions you’ve ever made, depending on how attached you are to your possessions. But change is good.
If the stuff you own is causing you to be less productive and intentional, you should consider either getting rid of it or minimizing your consumption of it. Take small steps if you have to, just don’t minimize the way of life that the concept of minimalism offers.
Honestly, this is not how we are inclined to think. Our culture is filled with reasons why we need the “new,” and they sound so good. Even though the “used” you still have is basically the same and gets the job done well, it’s difficult to fight off the sight of something with a long list of better features and a more appealing frame.
I’m pulled in the same way you are. That new phone does look nice, and that car with doors that open vertically would attract a lot of peoples’ attention. Strangers would flock from far away just to be able to call my friend.
But I don’t want to go throughout my life basing everything I buy on whether or not other human beings will like it. I don’t want to have a ton of people I call friends when I know they really aren’t.
The small group of confidants who will be there for me, and I for them, is all I need. This phone I’ve called my own for five years now works just fine. Maybe later I’ll consider an upgrade.
But only when I need it; only when it contributes to the overall value of my life.