It’s the day after Christmas, and I’m running to the mall. Not to buy anything, God no. I’m not a fan of nationwide sales. Especially the kind that tricks you into believing you’re saving so much money it’s necessary to abandon quality time with friends, family or even yourself, to buy more stuff you won’t use or wear. I was returning some gifts that were well-intended but not quite right for me. I was confident hardly anyone would be at the mall. It was raining, gloomy, and it was the day after Christmas after all. Hadn't everyone spent all their savings the days prior? I was terribly wrong. It was packed. Packed to the max. Excuse the simple, predictability of my words, but that’s how it looked. Everyone standing in line with their Macy’s 25% off coupons confused by why they didn’t apply to the items they were purchasing.
“Because, this was the only way to get you into the store to spend more money than you actually intended, knowing you were never saving anything in the first place.” The clerk gently explained with a smile on her face.
People's Need for More
It amazes me that year after year, holiday after holiday, sale after sale, people have yet to catch onto the games that are being played by retail companies. It doesn’t matter how much stuff people have, for some reason they still believe they NEED, not want, but absolutely need more. “Oh I need a new coat. This room needs a bigger TV. It's half-off!”
If you stopped to take a sneak peak in the households of each of these individuals ready to buy more, you will find someone irritated by how much stuff is everywhere and can never kind what they need. A mother who can’t get a moment to herself because every single weekend she’s doing loads of laundry and never-ending tidying up. A beautiful woman with enough clothes to open not one, but two boutiques tomorrow, yet she still can’t find anything worth wearing to dinner. You’ll find someone so overwhelmed with their disorganization but instead of doing anything about it, continue to live scattered day in and day out—going from one stressful peak to the next.
None of these people are lazy or refuse to change, they’re simply unaware of what to change or how to change. A lot of what we are all seeking from life is translated to the things we invest our money in. Whether it’s love, acceptance, notoriety, purpose, self- worth, it is seen in how we spend our income. As each generation emerges, it is clear money is being spent on the more shallow areas of life- appearance, trends, beauty, cars, clothes, and not on the deeper, more lasting areas- experiences, knowledge, relationships, the environment, world epidemics, personal and professional growth.
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending money on how you appear to those around you. It’s important to feel confident and proud of the image portrayed to the outside world. But the scale has tipped in that direction as if it is more important or solely important above all else. Above how we actually feel about ourselves and our lives, above the state of our relationships with those we love, above our actual reality.
And the reality is this:
People feel over-worked, under appreciated, unfulfilled, living for the weekends, and simply not at peace because there’s ALWAYS something that we should be doing in order to keep up in this race called life.
I felt nothing but pure joy to be around those I loved this Christmas. The ability to be present and embrace careless spontaneity. The simplicity in sharing a story or laughing endlessly at my niece being all or 6 but acting all of 16. The feeling of not needing to be anywhere else but here and now. The holidays are special that way. For a moment, they remind us to be satisfied with the simple things. But what if you didn’t need a holiday to feel like this. What if, enjoying the moment was possible on a daily basis. I’m not talking about living in a state of oblivion- walking around with rose colored glasses without a care in the world, but living in a state of reality, being surrounded by these moments instead of all these things.
How to Live More
How do you achieve that? How do you surround yourself with pure satisfaction instead of always seeking it in things, notifications, acknowledgements, achievements and THINGS? It's simple really, in theory. It's a little more difficult in practice-- for our time at least.
Sometimes we have to let go of what's killing us, even if it's killing us to let go.
In order to make room for something new, we must remove what's getting in the way. I see a lot of people, myself included, seeking for a life less busy, less strenuous, less difficult to maintain. A life where we thrive instead of survive. A life that is rich, even without being rich.
After spending a year in and out of homes of people from all backgrounds and all income brackets, it is clear, without a doubt, that having more does not mean a happier life. Just maybe, we have it backwards. Maybe, having less means living more.
I decided it was time to get off this train and walk a path that feels more natural to who we are as humans, before we were told what we are, how we should be, and what we should buy to feel more complete. Minimalism may not be for everyone, nothing ever is, but if the route you’re currently traveling doesn’t feel quite right, what’s the harm in going the other way? Join me on the path of discovering more life with less.