A Meditation on Shopping
Consumption is a highly subjective subject and practice. Each person has their own process of coming to the conclusion that they need to purchase something, this entire process is also subject to change over time as needs and values change. This exercise is to challenge you as a consumer. By taking the emphasis off of money when you are thinking of buy something it changes the outlook and need you may have as a consumer. Answer the question below and see where your mind takes you.
If everything in life were free, what would you want to own?
Take money out of the picture. No really, if there were no monetary currency, or currency at all, so that you always had access to what you needed or wanted, would your purchasing habits change? Think about how and what you would decide to own. How would this change your habits? What would your lifestyle look like? What things would you increase in ownership, what things would you decrease? Would your belongings in general decrease or increase?
More: If you visualized having more; endless clothes, a bigger home, 10 of the fanciest jets and yachts (ok, maybe not that extreme...), then, as of right now, that is what you are wanting. There is no judgement in that! It is completely ok to have wants and to have dreams. That is your ideal lifestyle and what you currently value. Start being strategic about your goals, figure out why you want them and how you can make them happen. Be sure to consider what you are giving up to make these goals possible. Try to find a balance in enjoying life as is, while you are striving to make your goals real.
Neutral: If you visualized something close to what you have but with the elimination of a few things and a few upgrades on some others, then go for it. Often people only think of a few things when they do this exercise, the few things they think of are usually the things they use the most and impact their daily lives the greatest. Odds are the simple additions or subtractions that you thought of are important to you and would hopefully simplify your day to day life. Think about writing down the top 5 things you would like to minimize in your life and the top 5 things you want to add or increase, work towards making these things possible. Since you have a short list, it shows that you are already happy with where you are, addressing these lists and making them possible are little steps that you can take to further enjoy how you spend your time and what you are surrounded by.
Less: You minimalist, you! If you visualized a lifestyle with significantly less things than you have now, then it is time to make some choices and spur some change! There are so many processes and ways to reduce your belongings. There are endless blogs (Check out Bare Cloth's method!), books, exercises and friends that serve as great inspiration! Find what method works for you and start working! Throughout this process you will start identifying what is important to you, value these things and become a materialist in a different sense of the word. When you only have a few belongings you tend to value them more than when you had a lot! Enjoy the few things that you want to surround yourself with and eventually re-evaluate yourself to see what you need to rid yourself of and what you need to add to your life.
The more that you align your wants with your actions you will begin to see your life transition to be the lifestyle that you envisioned in this exercise. The closer you get to aligning reality with your ideal lifestyle you will find yourself falling under the "neutral" category. Being neutral confirms that you have found a good balance and acceptance with where you are. This also means that you appreciate both what you do have and what you don't have in your life.