Living the (Australian) Dream could be considered the way to live your life as a success. Having ownership of your own home displays an expression of security that you’ve finally “made it”. However, I have never been drawn to a life filled with inconceivable debt.
Studies have shown that we live in houses that are too big. We probably use only 40% of the space. The rest of the space is filled up with more “stuff”. Over the past 50 years, house sizes have tripled. Some people even store some of their things off-site at storage facilities. People are becoming attached to their things, rather than the people around them.
We are programmed by conglomerates around the world to believe the more we buy, the more we own, the more fashionable we stay, the more successful we are, the happier we will become. Sadly, most of society is on the hunt for happiness and follows this habitual behaviour.
So where is all this stuff coming from? Short answer – mainly China. Industry is never ending. This mindless consumption is causing the deterioration of our habitat. The burning of oil, coal, natural gas and fuels to power the consumer economy is the power for making all the cheap crap we don’t need.
Consumer purchasing has become a 365 day a year event either online or instore. Society is flooded with advertising in our every day lives. On public transport, movies, television, through social media and even in magazines at your doctor’s office.
Let’s think about it….
Gone are the days of seasonal clothes shopping. Winter – cold. Summer – hot. Fashion changes every month, if not every week. Low quality clothes are being made cheaply in sweat shops. These types of clothes are discarded instead of donated to charity. We now live in a world of throw away fast fashion.
Also, gone are the days when we owned an electrical item until it was no longer functional. Household items have become objects of fashionability. Remember when stainless steel was the coolest thing around? Now it’s your own coffee machine. Everyone had to have it.
Technology is forever changing. Telco’s do this on purpose so you continue to buy their products. People look forward to the release and purchase of the newest smart phone. Their old phone, only a few years old and fully functional, is discarded.
Those who are looking for meaning in their life are filling the void of underlying discontent with consumer purchases. We are trained to believe that more stuff means more happiness. That owning the latest gadget or fitting into the newest trend means we are successful. It’s time to ask yourself what success means to you. Is it a six figure pay check? A promotion? Working 12 hours a day to get ahead? Owning two cars and a mansion that has a three car garage? And are all of these things going to make you truly happy just because society says so?
I worked out what success meant to me and it wasn’t owning lots of things or a white picket fence. I began living a more meaningful life with less. Having less means less clutter, less responsibility, less stress, less debt, less discontent, less bullshit and less things to drag me down and hold me back. I began to feel freer, happier, lighter and less busy. It also brought me more time, more freedom, more growth, more contentment and more financial freedom to do all the things I choose on any given day. Ultimately, I could do more with less.
I remember an ex-boyfriend accusing me of keeping all my possessions packed in boxes ready to run away. It was assumed that I never truly unpacked my life and wasn’t happy where I was. In some ways this was true, however these things made me feel uncomfortable, trapped and held down. I had no use for any of these childhood items (toys, photos, mementos) but the pressure from my family (and myself) to keep them was overwhelming.
I have been minimalizing for the last 3 years. It wasn’t something I was able to do all in one day. I would go through stages and waves. Every possession I kept had to serve a purpose or bring me joy. The only rule I set for myself was no excess. I was learning to let go. Some of the hardest things for me to give away or let go of were;
Books, CDs, Photos, Childhood Toys, Trinkets, School & Sports Achievements, Letters & Cards
Becoming a minimalist isn’t radical. It’s a choice following a different template for life. It’s where I get to choose quality over quantity. I no longer have a wardrobe bursting with clothes I don’t enjoy wearing. Everything I have is a favourite. I rarely spend time worrying about what I should wear on any given occasion, because I have a limit to choose from.
Let me end with this. The problem isn’t with consumption. It’s with compulsory consumption. Buying stuff because advertising says “that’s what you’re supposed to do”. Advertising tricks you into this magic template for happiness. But what if it doesn’t make you as happy as what you thought it would? Then what..?
Additional reading and ideas
Clutter Stats: https://www.becomingminimalist.com/clutter-stats/
Minimalist Australia: https://www.theminimalistsaustralia.com/
Tiny Houses: https://aussietinyhouses.com.au/