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Mindful consumerism

I have been thinking a lot about minimalism recently. Going through exciting developments in life and being constantly ready to pack my belongings and move elsewhere, I have started thinking carefully about what I want to own and what is not really necessary. I have never been much of a hoarder, yet I am no longer able to fit everything in 20 kg check-in luggage as I used to not a long time ago.

The idea of minimalism stroke me, when my bed fell apart. Yes, my huge comfortable bed, the masterpiece in my studio, the project of my Brussels beginnings. You know how much I cherish good night sleep. However, knowing I may need to relocate, I took advantage and returned my beloved bed back to the shop, and I ended up sleeping on a tiny guest mattress on the floor. And you know what? The first night on the floor was one of the most peaceful nights I had last year. I didn’t only get rid of my bed. I got rid of what I subconsciously perceived as a burden of possession that limited my freedom.

Feeling light and relieved I started paying more attention to what relationship I and people around me have with material things. I learned that we often struggle to be able to possess. We get frustrated that we do not have enough money to buy what we want. Once we manage, it doesn’t bring us as much happiness or higher status as we thought. And despite that, we end up suffering to replace it with a newer model. Our living space is getting filled with meaningless things and so is our mind.

Mindfulness in consumerism doesn’t mean living life of austerity between four plain walls and no “toys” to play with. To me it means understanding the thin line between what we need and what makes us happier, and the unnecessary excess introduced by societal pressures, desire for higher status, admiration, respect.

I remembered the time of being a university student and living on an extremely low budget. I was dying to travel. It took me always months or even years of working hard in my free time after school, taking up low-profile jobs and saving little by little. And still it didn’t feel like suffering. I had a goal in mind that would have made me ultimately happy.  I was willing to undergo the time of patience and hard work. I absolutely enjoyed the period of “looking crazily forward to” whatever my dream or plan was. And the feeling of finally holding an air-ticket? Of getting on airplane and setting my foot on a foreign land? Priceless.

I spent two years in my first “real” job and after the end of my contract I took a few months to figure out what I want and reflect on the past two years of adult life. I realized that despite being rather mindful person, the feelings described above slowly and silently vanished from my life. Going on low budget of an opportunity seeker, I took it as an chance to explore how little one actually needs to be happy.

Tomorrow is the first day in my new job. I will no longer live on unemployment benefits, but I will not give up mindfulness in consumption. I made a decision to experiment with 2015 as the year of simplicity, minimalism and mindfulness.

I’ve learned that I am happier with less than more, and that I feel the need to be able to justify to myself why I need or want something and how the thing serves me. I have also shifted my resources from material stuff towards creating memories through experiences. Because that’s what makes our lives fulfilling, enjoyable and worth living.

If you feel stuck or simply want to get closer to the best version of yourself, look around your living space and get rid of meaningless things that you don’t need or that even bother you. Spend a rainy day on sorting through your belongings, donate or throw away the excess and feel the change in your mindset. It doesn’t take much.

One more thought that I have in my mind and would love for you to think about. I grew up in a modest environment, which I am thankful for. Today I do not allow society to put too much pressure on me when it comes to owning things to demonstrate a status. Yet, I notice that this pressure is enormous and reflects even on people who are very strong, bright and definitely don’t have the need to show their position this way. Respect and estimation is built by actions rather than by a newest model of a smart phone or a big fancy car. Not to mention that status obtained by superficial means is unstable and fragile. Don’t be afraid to start empty handed and progress slowly but surely with determination and patience. The reward will not keep you waiting.

Thank you for reading, everyone. Have an amazing Sunday full of unforgettable experiences or simply filled with peace and joy. Whatever you do, make sure you live loud.

Yours,

Petra

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