I'm just over a month into my ban on buying clothes and shoes and so far it's easy peasy! Wooh! This challenge is going to be easier than I expected. A doddle, even!
I don't miss shopping at all, either online or in 'real' stores. I don't even think about it—well, I almost never think about it—and I genuinely feel as if my desire to acquire is ebbing away. Not wanting things is nice. I feel more content already. After only four weeks!
When I first decided to stop shopping and even after I told everyone—my boyfriend, work colleagues, social media friends—I wasn't buying any shoes, clothes and accessories for the rest of the whole entire year, I didn't feel confident I could do it.
But now I'm not only confident I can achieve what I've set out to do, I think this ban is going to be the seed of something bigger, something hopefully life-changing; not simply a temporary period of cheapskatery that swells my bank balance. I want it to be the seed of something bigger and life-changing.
When I decided to break my shopping habit, I threw a few more of my bad habits into the challenge as well—oversleeping, mindless internet scrolling and my bedtime phone fixation—because, combined, these bad habits suck up a lot of time, attention and money. They're a distraction from things that really matter or they work against me achieving goals (e.g. overseas holidays, improving my health).
So this thing has been about more than than just not buying stuff from the start, but I want to make it into something even broader, about how I live my life—what I want out of life—not just how I spend my money and my spare time.
This is partly prompted by a funeral I went to recently. As often happens on these occasions, I got to thinking about how I live my life and what people will say at my funeral. When the end is nigh, I want to feel as if I really lived, not just existed. I am not just going to pay bills and die.
Not that I'm veering off onto a completely different path here; over the years I have given quite a bit of thought to how I live my life, with a focus on what makes me happy (I started Gleeful to get out of a slump, and I did), but in the last couple of years, I've been been distracted from that focus...partly by all the pictures of gorgeous dresses and amazing shoes on Pinterest, which lead to the discovery of a gazillion online shops selling stuff I loved and itched to own, and fashion blogs with women prancing about in stuff I loved and itched to own. I'm still a big fan of Pinterest, but there is a strong undercurrent of consumerism and wanting, if you cultivate a fashion-heavy timeline as I did. (My timeline is much lighter on fashion now.)
It's time to get back my pre-Pinterest focus on more meaningful things, which seems to be a common theme among people who come over all non-spendy like me (not the Pinterest part of it). Focusing on acquiring less stuff often leads to a desire to downsize one's existing mountain of possessions, which leads to the embrace of minimalism. But minimalism isn't just about buying and owning less. It's not about a spartan life of denial: it's about living—making the most of the life that opens up to you when you jump off the consumer treadmill. In simple terms, it's about happiness.
It's the other aspects of minimalism I want to bring into my life, or develop more. Mindfulness. Better use of my time. Simplicity. Fewer distractions. Doing more of what I love. Freedom.
MORE OF THESE THINGS:
Adventuring and exploring: Life should be an adventure, even if the adventure is just walking down a street in your suburb you've never been in before or taking a different route home from work. Adventure leads to happy discoveries, like cats to pat, amazing street art, splendid ghost signs (if you're into that sort of thing, as I am) or amazing architecture. I love to explore locally and to go to new places.
Connection: I'm lousy at staying in touch with people. I need to make more of an effort at this. Quality relationships are a hugely important part of what makes people happy.
Curiosity: It won't kill you. It expands the mind. Expanding your mind is good.
Compassion: For others, for myself. Less judgement, more understanding.
Conscious consumption: Even when my shopping ban officially ends on 31 December 2016, I plan to continue to be far more discerning in what I spend money on, with a focus on accumulating experiences, not possessions (apart from possessions that are also experiences, like books and music).
Creativity: I want to create a blog for my ghost sign discoveries and publish a photo book and make a found-object robot and give Gleeful a make-over and all sorts of things.
Exercise: I always feel better when I'm getting more exercise. It's good for so many things that having nothing to do with fitness and weight loss, like better sleep and stress relief.
Fun: Fun alone is a perfectly good reason for doing something.
Gratitude: A good way to not care about all the things you aren't buying because you feel so lucky for everything (and everyone) you have in your life already.
Helping others: I'm looking into volunteer opportunities. I want to help less fortunate kids with their education, a cause I already support by sponsoring a child through The Smith Family's Learning for Life program. Education is everything.
Humour: Life always goes better with humour. I love making people laugh. Laughing is good for your physical and mental health.
Kindness: It's free and it makes people happy, and making people happy makes me happy.
Learning: I have a list of (pretty random) stuff I want to learn: juggling (which I used to be able to do in my youth), speaking some Icelandic for when I visit one day, using my camera more effectively, how to make a decent floral arrangement (I would love to be a florist).
Mindfulness: Keeping my head in the moment. Being aware of my surroundings. Noticing the small things.
Nature: Being in nature makes me happy - the sights, the smells, the sounds, the fresh air, the trees, the fungus! You've never seen someone get so excited about seeing a mushroom before.
Nourishment: I have to stop sabotaging my health by eating things that I know don't contribute to my wellbeing (gluten, this means you!) and I have to eat more of what does.
Love: Underpins everything.
Play: Less seriousness, (even) more silliness.
Reading: I've been reading a lot less over the past couple of years (I blame the internet), but this is going to change.
Rest: Actually, I probably need less of this, given my excessive napping habits, but resting when I need to is important given my chronic lack of energy (which I'm working on overcoming).
Simplicity: My life is already pretty simple and I like it that way. Complexity = stress, and I like to keep my stress levels low.
Single-tasking: Multi-tasking was the thing a few years ago, but not so much anymore. It's the enemy of mindfulness and flow. No more watching TV and scrolling Facebook. No more keeping one eye on my phone while Luke is talking to me.
Writing: I'm really enjoying getting back into blogging, with Gleeful and this blog. I shall do more of it!