So my blog is a few weeks behind my real life processes. I’m going to try and flash through some things I’ve been studying and thinking about in this post so that I can catch you all up! (Since what I really want to do on this is whine and complain about how hard this is, and how it’s affecting me emotionally!) On second thoughts I’ll keep going with the processes and research that I’ve done!
When I started thinking about stuff, and how much stuff I have, and how much money I spend on STUFF, I turned to my friend Steph in Camrose (shout out!) and asked about her spending habits. This might seem a bit intrusive, but I had remembered her telling me when I was bugging her about buying more jewelry that she had enough jewelry and didn’t need any more at that point. It was kind of a novel concept and when I got thinking about it I wanted to know more. Most people told me they didn’t have enough money to spend or just didn’t need anymore right now, but most weren’t saying that they just had enough jewelry outright. She had some amazing pointers about how she and her husband have been moving more to a model of minimalism in their lives (I’m paraphrasing a Facebook messenger conversation here, so this may not be perfect) and basically just avoided “stuff” and focused on needs-based shopping. And when they did have needs to try and go second-hand instead of buying new. But when they couldn’t find it second-hand, to try and buy ethically responsible/sustainably made products.
So that’s basically what I’m trying to do (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?). And she led me to a word that I hadn’t really included in my research yet: Minimalism. I was mostly wanting to save money and decrease STUFF, but the documentary she led me to had a bonus effect it was promising from doing both those things: increased happiness! The basic idea is that if we stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s and stop trying to find happiness in STUFF and more money and more promotions and more STUFF, we may actually find out what does mean something to us, and find happiness. Happiness outside of STUFF. We would have more time, more focus, more energy for relationships, and less STUFF. The documentary is called Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things and is on Netflix. Enjoy;)
I watched this (and another one called Happy, also on Netflix, with a very similar message about who is happy and who isn’t. Spoiler, richer ain’t always better) the same week that we moved all of our STUFF to another house, in another city. A SMALLER house in another city. The sheer abundance of our STUFF was earth shattering to me. Where did all of it come from? I’m pretty sure I’m 10000% complicit and even mostly to blame for the acquisition of all these possessions (350 wedding guests at our wedding 5 years ago started it, but I’m pretty sure most of the clothing purchases were mine). And none of it was making me HAPPY. I felt totally overwhelmed by all of the towels, serving dishes, clothes, toys, STUFFIES, books, everything.
I was flabbergasted. Who had I become? I had never been particularly interested in what “everyone else” was doing. I did not do a “high pressure” type of study in university, I don’t drive a fancy vehicle, I used to do 90% of my shopping at Value Village, and did NOT have the “right” clothing, usually ever. But fast-forward a few years and all of a sudden I’m picking a china pattern for our wedding registry, and worrying about the serving platters we need to have, and making sure we have enough items on the registry for all of our ten million wedding guests to buy for us. Ick. I think it all started there. And guess what? None of it has been making me happy. I know, I know, it’s more complicated than that. There have been a LOT of other factors involved in any unhappiness going around, but I did notice and have noticed that over the years, that I get really overwhelmed if there are too many options. I like options, truly, I do, I like knowing that I’m not restricted in many ways, but too many options and I get totally overwhelmed and almost fall apart. (Ask my husband about how I shop for strollers, omg. Research out the wazoo, I have to look at EVERY SINGLE OPTION, and then I get so overwhelmed that I never make a decision. Same with STUFF.) But all of my shopping and feeling like we “needed” this that or the other thing, has landed us with a lot of stuff. (Did I already mention we had like 12 bath towels, maybe even 14?! WHO NEEDS THAT MANY TOWELS?!)
Part of it has been some of the health issues that developed after my first daughter was born. I’m on a pretty strict diet of low fat foods, and I think since I was restricted in so many other ways, I felt like I deserved to spoil myself in other ways. Like shopping for (you guessed it) STUFF. Particularly of the clothing variety. I also turned 30 last year and congratulated myself on NOT having an “I’M TURNING THIRTY CRISIS”. But I think I did. I took the shopping thing to a whole other level by joining a jewelry company to sell jewelry to other women. It was a totally random, hey why not, kind of thing. But it pushed my shopping addiction off the hook. It was kind of a subconscious attempt to see what would happen if I had all the right clothes and all the right accessories, would I be happy? Would it get me the attention I wanted? Would I FEEL better if I LOOKED better? Kind of? I have learned I do feel better when I feel like I look better (did that make sense?) but it isn’t the absolute way I measure my happiness. I feel like a doofus when I spend 30 minutes picking out an outfit to go with my jewelry. I feel like a shallow nincompoop when I post too many selfies on my instagram. I feel awful when I get grouchy at my kids for making me dirty when they are just trying to get closer to me with that sweet sticky kid skin. I feel guilty when we don’t have enough money to do the 10,00000000 other things I want to do because I have spent it all on clothes. (Disclaimer: I LOOOVE jewelry, and I LOOOOOVE a huge amount of the people that I have met while selling jewelry, and I’m still going to Vegas next month to talk about jewelry and drool over jewelry. So I’m not perfect yet;)) SOOOOOO…maybe there’s a happy medium?
HENCE: BUY NOTHING NEW YEAR. I’m like a week in. DEATH. Going into places like Superstore is TORTURE. How do you all avoid shopping temptations? I’ve unsubscribed from most of my “it’s on sale” emails, any other suggestions? How do you say no to STUFF? Or do you?
Next up (Unless I get distracted by more emotions, pesky things): The audio book that made me “figure it out”.