If you have ever moved, decluttered, or otherwise gotten rid of items, you were probably surprised at the amount of extra things you have. I know this certainly happens to me every time I go through my clothes for a charity donation, and it definitely happened while I minimalized the bedroom, kitchen, closets, and office. Where in the world did all this stuff come from? Why is most of it laying around unused and collecting dust?
Since I began my journey into minimalism a few months ago, I have noticed something interesting about how I tended to acquire things and my perspective has changed significantly.
There seems to be a vicious cycle in which we see or hear about something we think we would like, we buy this item, enjoy it for a bit, and then not long afterwards, we are on to the next item and the cycle begins again. The first item usually gets forgotten or eclipsed by the next purchase and we aren’t really any happier than we were when we started out, despite having acquired the thing we thought we needed. It’s so easy to fall into this trap and it often happens without us being aware until we end up with way more things than we want or use and less money and time for what we really want.
Recently, I have been testing out ways to deliberately avoid this cycle.
Start a buying freeze
I started by going 90 days without buying any clothes, which led to a substantial shift in my outlook on clothes. You could use this technique for other items that you seem to acquire, such as kitchenware, shoes, books, or electronics. Challenge yourself and see if your perspective changes.
When you want something, wait
When a new product, especially a tech product is released, it’s understandable to immediately want to buy it. However, in my experience, the attractiveness of that product fades pretty quickly once you actually have it. Sometimes, it’s better to force yourself to wait a week, a month, or even a few months to make the purchase. Let others pay the inflated release price and test the product. Often, after the initial hype is gone, you will find out that it’s not as good as it was made out to be or that it’s not the right fit for you. Or, maybe you find out that it would be perfect for you, and by then, the price may have even dropped.
I like to apply this technique for products that have not been newly released too. For example, I am an avid reader who devours books. While I love physical books, I can’t afford the cost or space of buying every book I would like to read. In the last city I lived in, I used to just borrow books from the library, but I have found that the Toronto Public Library doesn’t seem to have many physical copies of books that I want to read but they do have lots of eBooks. So, I started thinking about being an eReader. At the time, a brand-new version of a very popular American eReader had just been released but I didn’t want to jump into the purchase since I wasn’t sure what I wanted or what would work best for me. So, I waited. Over the next few months, I researched different eReaders and discovered that this type of eReader actually doesn’t work too well with the eBook lending system used by Canadian libraries. I also realized that I wanted something small that would fit in my purse, so I ended up going with a basic model of Canada’s best-selling eReader. If I had made the purchase when I originally wanted to, I would have ended up with something that was too large and didn’t work well for borrowing books in Canada.
Practice gratitude daily
Be thankful for the things you do have and enjoy the use you get out of them. Starting a gratitude log for a month where you write down one thing you are grateful for each day is a great way to practice gratitude. You can even post it somewhere you will see it often or challenge a friend or family member to do it with you. When we are thankful for what we have, we think less about things we don’t have.
When you are finished with something or you realize that you acquired something that doesn’t work for you or your lifestyle, be generous and give it to someone who would use it. You can see if a friend or family member needs it, or donate it to a charity in your area. By being generous, we learn that things aren’t really all that important anyway.
Have you experienced the vicious cycle of acquiring things? What have you done to combat it? Let me know if the comments!