‘The best things in life aren’t things’
~ John Ruskin
You’ve got £100. What do you spend it on? A new dress? A handbag? A pair of shoes? Or theatre tickets, a night out at a restaurant or another experience. What would make you happier? Maybe the clothes would make you temporarily happy, but in the long run an awesome night out with friends would probably give you greater pleasure.
In the past I was definitely addicted to shopping. I would go at least once a week, but probably more like 2 or 3 times. All of the following things applied to me:
- I would buy things on a whim
- I had unopened items and clothes with the tags still on in my wardrobe
- I bought things I didn’t need, just because I saw them and liked them
- I shopped when I was bored or alone
- I felt restless when I wasn’t able to go shopping
- I would justify to myself that I deserved it
- I would buy things because shopping made me feel good (temporarily)
- I would buy things I thought I should have because my friends had them
Recently I have had a complete turnaround. Following a complete decluttering of my entire house, I have completely changed my shopping habits. I parted with many of my possessions, clothes I haven’t worn for ages, handbags I don’t use, electronics that I haven’t used for years, but are in perfect working order, books I’ve not read for years. Basically everything I don’t need in my life.
Following this decluttering, I rethought my relationship with shopping and possessions and this is what I came up with:
1) There are more fulfilling things to spend time on than shopping
Part of my shopping habit stemmed from boredom. When I had nothing better to fill my time with, I would go shopping. Now I have filled my life with so many more interesting things to do, shopping has fallen to the bottom of the list. If you can fill your life with interesting things to get involved with, shopping may get deprioritised.
2) Money is better spent on experiences rather than things
I get more pleasure from a trip to the theatre, a concert, or a night out with friends than from material possessions. On the whole, experiential purchases provide far more pleasure than material purchases. If your money is burning whole in your pocket, consider spending it on a great experience with someone you love.
3) It’s nice to live in a clutter free environment
Now I have gone through the process of getting rid of all my unnecessary possessions I don’t want to build them all back up again! I realized that holding on to lots of objects that are not useful to me anymore makes my life feel messy. I feel much calmer and more organized now I am clutter free. If you have too much to display, you can end up not seeing anything through all the stuff.
4) Awesome people make you feel better than things
When I wasn’t happy with my life, I bought lovely things to cheer myself up. Now I have awesome people in my life, I don’t need material possessions, I’m happy without them.
5) Happiness from buying things is short lived
When I buy something shiny and new I often get a brief spike in my happiness levels, but it doesn’t last. You can be all excited with a new purchase, but that excitement usually quickly wears off. It can sometimes be replaced with regret, especially if you are stretching your budget due to your spending habits.
6) Confidence comes from within, not from what you own
It can be tempting to buy things with the belief that they will make you feel more confident, especially clothes. A well fitting outfit you love may make you feel great, but if you are lacking confidence, no amount of clothes will change that. You need to look inside yourself to work on your confidence, rather than cramming your wardrobe full of new clothes.
7) It’s not possible to buy a perfect life
The basic thing I am striving for in life is to be happy. I have realized that buying things will not help me achieve that. It is easy to look at TV and in magazines and see celebrities picture perfect lives, or look at our friends lives and believe that if we too have the same possessions in our life, we can create the perfect existence for ourselves. The same house, car, clothes, jewelry and home accessories. But does any of that really make us happy? Happiness comes from within, not from the items you surround yourself with.
8) It’s not necessary to keep things for sentimental reasons
I used to feel guilty about not keeping certain possessions for sentimental reasons. I didn’t want to part with gifts I had received, even if I didn’t like or would never use them. Or things I had acquired in the past, that I no longer needed, but they brought back positive memories, I struggled to give them away. I have come to realize that you don’t need to keep things for sentimental reasons and am finding it easier to part with items I don’t need. You can accept gifts with the positive intent they were chosen for you with, but not feel the need to keep them if you don’t need them.
I now have some rules in place before I buy anything new which has helped me to reduce my spending:
- Is it essential? Do I really need it?
- Do I love it?
- Is it useful, will it make my life easier?
- Does it support me in developing myself?
- Does it support a hobby or a passion of mine?
- Does it generate fun for myself, family and friends?
By following these rules, I have managed to significantly cut back on the amount of items I buy and keep my house clutter free.
I’d love to hear in the comments below whether you have possession obsession, how it impacts you and how you manage it.