"Love people, use things. Because the other way around never works." - The Minimalists
I love stuff. I love going to the shops and checking out what's new in store. It's a buzz. A temporary high. An attempt to fill some sort of hypothetical void in my living space, wardrobe, or life.
But what that tangible consumption is doing is adding absolutely no value to my existence. Cluttering my world with meaningless junk, meaningless goals, and meaningless thoughts as a result of what society is telling me what my life should be like.
After watching the Netflix documentary Minimalism I am beginning to reevaluate my consumption of products, my thoughts, and what success really means to me. You may think when one refers to minimalist living they are suggesting you throw out all of your possessions and live with nothing. But it's so much deeper than that.
It's about analysing your relationships, your job, your possessions, and what you really want out of life. Where does the true meaning to your life really lie? I can tell you one thing, it's certainly not in what you own. Think about it.
Money doesn't buy happiness, but neither does poverty.
It's about having enough. Statistics show that there's a certain income threshold that corresponds with happiness. Once you go over that threshold, happiness doesn't necessarily increase nor decrease. Obviously we all need a certain amount of money to meet life's demands, while also still being able to actually enjoy life at the same time. If you're struggling to meet these demands, happiness is likely to be decreased. However, earning over that threshold, does not automatically equal additional happiness.
“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.” - Jim Carey.
This really spoke to me. We are so heavily absorbed in the intricate details of the lives of celebrities; what they're doing, wearing, and buying. They have stuff, fancy stuff. So much stuff. All the stuff they could ever want. They must be happy.
But if you actually take a step back and reflect on the amount of meltdowns, break ups, and substance abuse reported in the media, it couldn't be clearer that wealth does not equal happiness.
Have you ever noticed that the more you get of something, the more you want more of it? You may be on a perfectly comfortable salary, but you still want more. Why do you want more? Because more is what we think we need.
You want more so that you can buy more. A bigger home, even though you barely utilise the space you have currently have. A second car, just in case you decide to go off-roading. A snowboard, even though you've never even been to the snow.
I, like every other consumer, have fallen victim to this. I've been sucked in, tricked, brain-washed.
Enough, I say. It all must stop.
This doco didn't affect me so much (yet) in the sense that I felt the need to immediately clean out all my belongings (although I did feel guilty for buying a lamp two hours before watching it). However, it has influenced me to start cleaning out my thoughts - a brain cleanse shall we call it.
They say the average person has about 60,000 thoughts per day. That's a lot. A lot to monitor, a lot of currents. As it is practically impossible to control each and every one of these thoughts, I've decided to start with one topic; the utility of worry.
I'm a worrier - I worry about things that more than likely won't happen or are yet to happen. I've driven home from work in the middle of the day because I think there's a chance I might have left my hair straighteners on, only to find they are stone cold. I lay awake at night worrying about problems at work. I worry that I've run out of peanut butter and that it's going to throw off my whole morning. I'm outrageous.
One message really stuck out for me; there's a certain amount of worry you should give something, then you take action.
In other words, you allow yourself to only worry to a certain point where you make a decision about the thing you're worrying about - even if that result is to actually stop worrying about it. Any excess worry is pointless and dispensable.
“There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change, and no point being unhappy about things you can.” - Dan Harris - "10% Happier"
I will endeavor to practice this concept.
Mindfulness is also highly encompassed in this documentary. This is something I think people really seem to neglect, we are so caught up in everyday hype. We are absorbed in our phones, consumed by advertising, and succumbed by stress. When was the last time you took five minutes to just sit, listen to the rhythm of your breathing, and just be?
The voice in my head - the running commentary, the mental clutter, the over-thinking. Sometimes the only way to stop the thoughts is to just accept the thoughts, then tell yourself to let the thought go.
What do I want my life to look like? What is a win for me? What does success really feel like? When will I know if I've "made it?"
Is it a promotion which leads to a six figure salary? Is it a gigantic house with a white picket fence and perfectly manicured lawn? Is it being the cool, childless Aunt who jets off around the world once a year?
Well guess what? It's different for everyone. There is not one single generic thing that determines if one's successful or not. Or at least there shouldn't be. Sure, being the CEO of the largest tech company in the world may be the end all be all to one, but for someone else it could be about establishing meaningful relationships and feeling a sense of belonging.
I won't get too deep into a yarn about the so called 'American Dream' - but if you're looking for a pretty fair and accurate reflection on this ideology and how damaging it has become, then you should get watching.
For now, perhaps consider all the clutter in your life - the physical, and the mental.
Have you ever noticed how at ease you feel when the space around you is tidy? When your room is clean and uncluttered you have no choice but to examine your inner state.
The getting rid of the meaningless crap - to enable you to really focus on what's important, it all makes so much sense.
I, however have decided to start clearing the mind first.