I find it interesting how themes come into my life and begin reoccurring over a specific time period. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Or is my soul calling out for it? I’m not quite sure, but either way, I know it’s something that deserved my attention.
A few nights ago, I was on the phone with my girlfriend as she was stuck in LA traffic. We were catching up on the transition she’s going through with her divorce. After a few years of being separated and living in the same house, he’s moving out, and the idea of moving on is taking shape.
For my girlfriend, this meant purging and letting go of things that are no longer necessary. She said that with the separation there was an abundant accumulation of “stuff” that they held on to and collected. With her process, her divorce inevitably brings up emotions of fear, its also very liberating to let go and to shed the stuff that no longer resonates. With purging all that weighs her down, she sounded lighter, inspired and excited. She’s making room for exciting projects she’s ready to embark on as a healer with insights that weren’t available to her before.
Before the start of the New Year, I was reflecting on where I was spending my money. I had feelings of discomfort with the amount of stuff I was consuming that felt unnecessary. My front door to my apartment felt like a revolving door of never ending deliveries from companies like Amazon.com and Net-a-Porter. These sites make it so easy to shop, with a one-click buy button or same day service. It felt like I was overspending as I had no control of where or how much I was actually spending.
As I continue my journey with practicing consciousness, it’s amazing how much less I need, and in comparison to the years of over consumption with the belief these things would actually make me happy. With my conscious effort to grow in different areas of my life, I knew it was time to get a hold of and keep track of my spending. I set up an account with Mint so that I can continuously check in. The categories of spending are compartmentalized, which is helpful to understand the bulk of my spending. I have been cleaning out the closets, donating and consigning. My life feels more spacious, which is the way I prefer to live.
In thinking about this, I stumbled upon a documentary on Netflix titled “Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things.” It was a film created by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as “The Minimalists,” who share their stories through theminimalists.com, several books and on their podcasts. The movie showcased their personal transformation as well as others. There were architects from Life Edited, who have been working to transform the way people live in small spaces. Many people who had left their homes behind in pursuit of Tiny House living.
Dan Harris, a journalist, spoke about his own experiences that led him to explore meditation and write “10% Happier.” Economists and sociology experts spoke about global issues facing our society, which impact this movement, and the many reasons the society has gotten to where it is already. The film brought a panoramic view of this movement: what it is, why it is, and how it is all much bigger than just tossing all your stuff.
At the core of it all, is compulsory consumerism, which has become a growing problem in our society. Many people have become absorbed in the act of consumption and “keeping up with the joneses.” The stories shared are by those who have sought to break that chain, whether due to physical health, depression, or extreme financial debt, but they all came to the same conclusion. “I believe my life could be better with less.” The stuff they’d acquired and collected were not making them happy, even though they thought it would. It’s not just about not owning stuff; it’s about creating the life you want to live, with the relationships and values that mean the most to you, and not letting the stuff be a substitute for, or get in the way of, pursuing that life.
The documentary emphasized Fast Fashion (where styles are in fashion for a week and are made so cheaply overseas that they’ve become disposable) and cheap labor costs. It also discussed a disregard of the environmental impact of manufacturing and distribution, and a decrease in quality, which has led to the idea that most of what we own is easy to dispose and replace.
My thoughts are that there are two components of Minimalism – the individual benefit of living simpler and happier with mindful spending, and the bigger picture of global climate control with overconsumption and consideration of labor practices.
What are your goals with consumption and spending?
Could you do something better for your life by redirecting that value elsewhere? Could not owning something actually bring you more value?
Whether that is physical space you’ve freed up, or a reduction in headaches and stress, could there be importance in letting go of the things that don’t provide you with daily value.
Photo’s in this story by Anton Lombardi