In honor of Black Friday today, I’ll be discussing one of my favorite topics: anti-hyper-consumerism. Or as the cool kids are calling it these days, “minimalism”.
I don’t want to risk butchering the concept so I’ll give what I consider to be an excellent definition straight from The Minimalists themselves:
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
Minimalism doesn’t mean only owning a specific amount of items or never buying anything at all or living in a black-and-white Pinterest-worthy apartment. It just means being mindful of what items you bring into your life.
Not to go all hipster on you, but I totally practiced Minimalism before I even knew what it was. Granted, this was mostly due to a lack of disposable income and always being on the move, but that’s besides the point.
You see, when I was in college, my dad, God bless his soul, took care of most of my tuition so that way I could actually focus on school and get a head start in life (thank you, Baba, you’re the best baba ever and I’m forever grateful for everything you’ve done for us). That meant I didn’t have a job to distract me from my schoolwork, but it also meant I had very little disposable income. This led me to live a relatively frugal lifestyle. I only bought things if I really wanted them or needed them for an event. Naturally, I became more conscious of my spending habits. I also started to distinguish between what I actually “need” versus what I might be buying out of boredom or to fill some kind of emotional void.
The other thing was that I was always moving around — even as a child. Things didn’t change when I went off to college and had to go to a new dorm room or apartment every year. And they certainly didn’t change when I started my work in a rotational program where I was constantly moving around California and traveling back and forth across the country. All of this meant that I had to be able to pack my belongings quickly and store them in a relatively small space. And I had to this frequently. So just out of pure laziness, really, it became more advantageous and efficient to have fewer items to pack and to store.
And honestly, now that I’m more settled in and have a decent amount of disposable income, my spending and shopping habits have not changed that much. Granted, I’m now a little more flexible with certain budgets and I’ll maybe make a splurge purchase once or twice a year, but for the most part, I really am just so content with the things that I already own so I only add things sparingly and mindfully.
When it really comes down to it, the things that bring me genuine joy and happiness are quite simple: cooking a meal and eating good food with close friends and family, laying underneath the sun on the beach, reading a book I like, having good discussions with people — that kind of stuff.
And so with that, I ask you to try to identify those memories and moments in your life where you’ve felt that sense of gratitude and pure bliss…and do more of those things this Black Friday.