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This new year I plan to be more present and buy less things; to declutter my life and focus on meaningful pursuits.
The year 2018 has actually been a year that defined ‘new year, new beginnings’ for me. I’d resigned from my job (and perhaps bid goodbye to my decade long corporate career for good) and decided to pursue my writing more seriously; I also wanted to follow things that satisfy my soul, and it felt like I plunged headlong into this year with a resolution to do things differently.
It was at this time, that I came across an article by author Ann Patchett that made me think about the other aspects of my life as well. It surely couldn’t have come at a better time. The article talks about not shopping for things we don’t really require and what better time to start following it than when you’re actually without a substantial source of income?
So, I took on the resolution to stop buying things unless absolutely necessary. See, at the very onset let me confess, I have a bit of a hoarding tendency and it is kind of genetic. So, my mother keeps buying junk, saris she doesn’t need, cheap plastic containers, t-shirts for me or my brother which we’ll never wear, you name it. I, in turn, love buying clothes and shoes online. Last year, I finally learnt how to use makeup (just the basic stuff) and then I’d go crazy online buying things that I’d even forget about later on. I even took a subscription at a fashion website and now I have more cheap purses than I know what to do with.
The realization came after months that I’m simply not that kind of woman who can take too much pains with putting on makeup. Yes, I might do the basic preening if I’m heading for some occasion but that’s the extent to which I’ll go. Working from home for the last three years also came with the advantage that no one got to see me. Hence, I am always in my pajamas or shorts at home, forgetting to even comb my hair on many days. What was I buying so much of stuff for?
I slowly understood that more than a physical need, I was trying to fill up an emotional void by buying things. Working from home or writing are lonely pursuits and sometimes that’d make me so desperate and restless that my mind would convince me into thinking that material things might be able to fill in the blanks where emotional connections should have been.
Of course, I was wrong!
It seems like some good realizations begin when necessity knocks at the door. With the decision to quit my job, I started paying heed to unmindful spending. And then when I came across the article I mentioned in the beginning, it was as if the Universe sent a message to reaffirm my thoughts.
So, even though I have not taken the oath to stop shopping altogether, I have instead decided to opt to buy less, i.e. mindful shopping. So, of course I’ll buy a shampoo when it gets over. But I won’t buy two more shampoos just because I found them interesting when I already have a half-filled bottle lying on my bathroom shelf.
I have enough shoes and clothes and so, unless something huge demands a purchase, I won’t buy anymore this year.
The only exceptions to this rule are books and food. Though my compulsive purchases of books online have definitely slowed down, it still needs improvement and I’m working on that.
The same goes for ordering food which seems to be my answer for any kind of situation (‘it’s so cold, I want something good to eat’., ‘it’s raining, I want a treat’, ‘I worked hard today, I need some delicious snack’). Yes, I have a habit of emotional eating and I’m trying to get that under control.
Instead, I’ve Chosen To BE MORE.
In this context, let me quote one of my spiritual gurus, Marie Forleo,
”Make Isness Your Business.”
I highly recommend her YouTube videos for a huge dose of motivation and inspiration.
Look at the above quote and just think about the depth of it.
Is there any other way to attain happiness than by just being fully present at wherever you are or by doing anything that you’re doing with your complete presence?
This implies cutting down on distractions and focusing on the present moment.
This is my biggest resolution for the year 2018. To just ‘being’ more. And of course, the more we are present, the more we realize the futility of our compulsive behavior, such as buying more.
Of course, I’m a work in progress, but I’m trying.
If you too feel that material possessions are not really filling the gap that seems like a black hole, then maybe stop trying to fill it. Instead breathe in, breathe out and accept the place where you are at. Take in the beauty around you. Create art. Read. Play with your children or with your pets. Be more human. Maybe, that’s all we need.
Published here earlier.
Image source Pexels
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