A Personal Anecdote: Taming My Inner Material Girl With Minimalism
April 03, 2018
When I quit my corporate job last year, I knew that I needed to adopt a frugal lifestyle. I wasn’t exactly a “big spender” so it wasn’t a huge concern. At the time, it felt like the smallest, short-term sacrifice for being able to act on my dream.
Fast forward five months later and my initial enthusiasm for budgeting, much like my bank account, had depleted to a point that triggered some pretty unsatisfying feels.
I found myself experiencing a serious case of Material Girl which of course was exacerbated by social media. I was wanting what I didn’t have and not having these possessions (because they didn’t exactly fall under my budget) was breeding discontent and to be honest, a little jealousy.
Although I didn’t act on my temptation to splurge (thank you past Alex), I desperately wanted to extricate myself from this toxic headspace, ASAP.
To settle my Instagram-induced cravings for all things shiny and new, I decided to revisit the principles of minimalism. I wanted to dissolve my materialistic desires and experience the mental freedom I felt after quitting my job.
If you’re feeling trapped in a material bubble, this post is for you. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you purge all your possessions and live off the land. I’m just inviting you to open up your mind to principles that could improve your quality of life.
Hopefully, the following bite-sized pieces of wisdom extracted from The Minimalist documentary, blog and podcast, will reboot your perspective and equip you with a few tools to vanquish your Material Girl because let’s face it, she’s overstayed her welcome.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
Reassess your priorities
A minimalist lifestyle isn’t about adhering to a strict code or an arbitrary set of rules. It’s about reassessing your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff - the possessions, relationships and activities that don’t add value to your life.
Constantly ask yourself, does this thing add value to my life? This simple question applies to both your possessions and relationships.
When you consciously clear away the distractions and clutter surrounding you, you make room for the things that are most important to you - your health, passion, relationships, personal growth and contribution.
Ultimately, this acute awareness and conscious living mentality can be the difference between a meaningful and meaningless life.
Purchase with intention
It’s not about being a tightarse or shopping around for the cheapest option. It’s about shopping intentionally rather than purchasing on impulse…because it was on saleorbecause everyone else has one. Subscribing to this mentality makes you an unfortunate slave to consumerism which strips away your freedom.
The mindset ofneedingmoreand purchasing more stuff to make you happy creates a cycle of discontentment because nothing will ever be enough. You will always be hungry formore.
So, how do you avoid this trap of mindless consumption?
Question every single purchase.
As Joshua Fields Millburn put it, “It takes time to earn money, and my time is my freedom, so by giving up my money, I’m giving up small pieces of my freedom.”
The next time you make a purchase, ask yourself “is this item worth $x of my freedom? When you get into the habit of vetting your purchases and its value, you step away from that instant-gratification culture driven by consumerism and into a world of intentional living.
Minimalism is not about deprivation. Minimalism is about aligning your short-term actions with your long-term values. - The Minimalists
Use technology as a tool
Technology is constantly evolving to serve the human race. However, it can also derail your attention, deplete your time and drain your energy levels. The question is, are you using it as a tool or pacifier?
Are you using technology to enrich your life and the lives of others or are you constantly finding yourself in social media’s Bermuda Triangle, toggling between apps, drawing comparisons between you and someone else’s highlight reel and partaking in activities that deflate your self-esteem and detract from your wellbeing?
I’ve been there. I’ve wasted countless hours consuming content that achieved the exact opposite of enriching my life - sometimes it would knock my confidence and self-worth. Other times, it would fuel my anxiety and materialistic tendencies.
Remember that the clutter in your life is not restricted to physical possessions. Technology can play its role too. It’s your responsibility to vett your usage, assess the value that it’s adding to your life and modify your relationship with it. It’s up to you to remove the noise.
Nothing changes if nothing changes
It’s easy to disregard the principles of minimalism and rule it out as an incompatible lifestyle, especially if it is in contrast to your own. The thing is,nothing changesif nothing changes, so keep an open mind.
Live consciously, remove the clutter and clear away the distractions so that you can give the maximum amount of attention to the things that are truly important to you - the things that are worth every bit of your time.