…According to the ‘how stuff works’ podcast (admittedly from 2014, but better late than never, right?) these are the three things which result from materialism.
I have been thinking, and reading a lot recently about ‘owning less stuff’. I’m not going to go crazy just yet and decide to live with only 100 items or anything, but being the absolute scatterbrain that I am, I am really seriously thinking about the impact on my life of owning fewer things.
I’m a sucker for retail therapy. If I’m sad, tired, grumpy, angry, or all of the above, I like buying things. Essentially, it’s filling the void, it’s giving me something else to concentrate on and it’s distracting me from said negative emotion.
I can’t help but think that actually having fewer things would make me less messy, more productive, more ‘peaceful’ person. Forgive me for sounding horrendously spiritual. Hear me out. What I mean by that is that if I don’t have to think at 6am about where my keys might be, surely I would start my day happier and less stressed? Surely, if I don’t have options, which I don’t really need in the first place (I promise you 99% of my friends wouldn’t be able to tell you whether I had Estee Lauder or Max Factor foundation on my face), surely I’ll waste less time, and less space. Not only physical space, but brain space. I am convinced that the space which my mind uses to decide which foundation to put on my face in the morning, could be used more wisely.
It’s not just that, it’s the money staring at me which I know I spent and which I know i’m not using. It’s the books on my shelf which I’ve never touched, the clothes I hardly wore, and the notebooks I never wrote in. It’s the regret of having those things there, having had money which SO many people don’t have, and having spent it on something which I probably didn’t really need.
The three words used in that podcast really put a fear into me. A fear resulting in some impetus to change, but fear nonetheless. Envy persists. I think everyone, whether they have a fundamental faith in God as I do or not, knows that if they had all the money in the world they wouldn’t be happy. Everyone knows there’s a gap which money can’t fill, even if they fall into the trap hourly that having more money and therefore being able to buy more possessions would make them happier - better, even.
Perhaps for some, money is the ONLY thing which really truly worries them, which means yes having more money would help, of course, but this isn’t really about money. I’ve never been someone who wants a lot of money. Just things. I like things. I can see though, that I still compare what my room looks like, or what my house looks like, or where I buy my shoes or makeup with other people. I still compare the things which I bought in my moment of need, in a moment of ‘I don’t feel quite right so let’s give me something else to concentrate on’, to things which other people own. So really, they’re not bringing me any happiness at all. Then there’s the non-generosity thing. As much as this isn’t about money, there is not an unlimited pot of money. Therefore, if I buy something for myself, that’s something that I can’t buy for someone else. It also means that as my materialistic nature increases, I become less and less likely to give my things away to those who need it more than I do. If I spent the last little bit of money on something that I didn’t really need, I am less likely to give it away because it means an amount that it shouldn’t mean to me. Which means that it inherently, makes me possessive.
I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to compare anything I own to what anyone else owns. I want to love people and listen to people and understand people and know the creator of the world, and that’s what’s going to make me me, not anything that I may own. I don’t want to attach such importance to an item that I never want to give it away, or let someone use it, or lend it out. I want to be different.
So, I decided to do something about it - and I went on a sort of accidentally strike from buying things. I stopped buying things unless it was food which I needed, or I absolutely did not have it and absolutely did need it (e.g. I needed some holiday appropriate shoes because I actually didn't own any, or it was something that I ran out of and don’t have an alternative, etc). I’m tried to give away/sell/throw away anything which didn't get used. I didn't throw away anything which still had a function. I made sure I had gifts sorted for the next couple of months so that I had perfect things in mind for people as I sort through things I’ve never used. I gave a suitcase of clothes to a clothes swap after getting over the fact that some things just don't sell online - or the stress of trying to sell them outweighs the potential monetary benefit. I filled whole rooms in my house, with clothes which I no longer needed. I gave books awayto people who I knew would read them - even unread ones, because if a book has sat on your shelf for the year, it's probably not going to be read in the next year. I sent things to charity shops. I gave things to my housemates. I felt the benefit of the fact that I became aggravated by having too many things, especially when I knew that either the charity shop or I could turn them into money, or someone else could get more out of using said item.
I am able to keep my room tidy because it's not bursting to the seams. Basically, I’m going to stop holding on to things which aren’t making my life better. If anyone wants to let me know how to get rid of all of the wires which have accumulated in my drawers while still being able to charge things, that would be great.