We are constantly followed by, driven by and reminded of our needs and aspirations on a daily basis. We get a brand new shiny car to drive to work, but now we need to save up for the bigger television that we also want because it will make watching shows when we get home just that little bit better.
We get promoted at work, and we need to figure out how we can display our new corporate status with an expensive laptop bag and unique ballpoint pen.
Wanting more ‘things’, which are forever being cleverly marketed to us, is always going to be a never ending cycle of lust and need. If you subscribe to having the best new clothes, you are always going to covert the newest most fashionable releases. If you desire to have a new model of car, how long is it going to be before it is not ‘new’ anymore and you need another?
It feels good for a while, maybe a few weeks or months, but then your desire will be replaced by the next item you are ‘needing’.
How then, do we go about wanting less whilst still fulfilling our aspirations and needs?
The answer is simple, we need to want things that are worthwhile. We need to go after our dreams, we need to contribute to our main priorities, and we need to help others.
Buying a new pair of shoes makes you happy for a while, but spending more time with loved ones rather than going to the shops each week will make a huge difference to your happiness over time. Going to the park to make memories, taking pictures and having fun, will stay in your mind and heart for years after the new shoes. Plus, it will save you money overall.
Spending the cost of a new gadget that you don’t actually need, you just desire, on a family holiday instead will leave you with so many important memories, that will make you feel so much better overall.
To want less and experience more you need to:
1. Have a clear vision of your goals and priorities. Find your motivation.
It is easy to spend less on the things that don’t matter when you know if they contribute towards your overall life goals or not. Sure, you might want a new top for £50 and see it as a good purchase, if you don’t have anything to compare the expenditure to. But what if that £50 was a contribution towards that family holiday you have booked to spend time with and make memories with your loved ones. You quickly think twice about wanting more if you know where the money could be making a difference.
2. Ask yourself why.
Often we buy things without a second thought. However if we took a second to actually ask ourselves why we were buying another winter coat (I have to admit I used to be terrible for collecting coats!), we might find that we come to realise how little we need that extra item.
If you have a good think and still want it, then it makes sense to buy it. But think about why you are getting it in the first place.
- Is it to get the shopping and new purchase buzz? Because that’s only temporary.
- Is it to have the latest shiniest model, to show off to our friends? Because there will be a newer model pretty soon, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others.
- Is it because you have heard it’s a must-have? Because marketing is very clever and you need to think about how you have been externally influenced before you buy.
- Is it because you think it will make you happier, thinner, more beautiful or smarter? Think about the deeper issue and try to resolve that without several material purchases.
There are so many reasons why we buy ‘just because’. Ask yourself why and try and change that habit today.
3. Add it all up
Look at what you are spending on ‘stuff’. At the end of the day, think about how much further your money could be going if you didn’t go to the supermarket for vegetables and accidentally spend £50 on unnecessary things (come on, we’ve all done it!). Keep a journal for two weeks and see exactly where your money is going. I bet most of it isn’t contributing to your long term happiness and happy mindset, but more on premium priced coffees and clothes that will be out of season pretty soon.
‘It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely’
Below is a two week challenge to help you start aspiring for things that will make a difference. See if you can follow it and share your results.