The Lost Art of Shopping with Intention
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This minimalist wants more. #Enoughism is a movement to redefine what minimalism, mindfulness, meditation, and…
You may think the whole world is busy right now hunting for killer Black Friday sales. Not quite. Most people this year won’t open their wallets on Black Friday at all. Fifty-nine percent of nearly 2,500 survey respondents, according to a Huffington Post readers’ poll, when asked, “Do you plan on shopping on Black Friday?” responded with, “No way! That’s for suckers.”
About one in four respondents, or 23 percent, said they’d spend money, but only online. One in 10 said they’d decide at the last minute if they were going to drop any dough. The remainder — eight percent — said they’d absolutely be (physically) shopping on Black Friday.
No matter where you fall regarding these stats, we all have one thing in common: our relationship with stuff is generally pretty weird.
Take me, a (probably pretty weird to most, but I’m totally down with that) minimalist. I live in a 250 square-foot city apartment. By choice. It takes intention and skill to live this way. And organization and willpower. Mostly by necessity. (And by scanning lots of scantily clad rooms on Pinterest to wrap my head around how to design such a small space that functions with both ease and beauty.)
This lifestyle takes discipline. If, say, I don’t make my bed (which is essentially part of my living room, dining room, office, kitchen, and workout space combo), I feel scattered, and quickly so. To keep my space — affectionately called the “zen den,” that is — truly calming and peaceful, I own items that do one or more of the following:
- They’re things I need and use on the regular. This may not be every day or every week but definitely at least once a month, with the exception of season-specific items like snow boots or a bathing suit.
- They enhance and improve my well-being and my health. (Mental? Check. Physical? Check. Spiritual? I’d better at least check that last one off, or else the other two will fall apart, and vice versa.)
- They inspire me to be the ideal version of myself, aka a #tooblessedtobestressed #bosslady #vibe, if only in my mind, anyway.
On that note, I do buy things, but with incredible intention. This Black Friday, I’m…going…shopping.
“Psst,” you may be whispering as you read these very words. “But, you’re, you know, a ‘minimalist.’ You’re not supposed to do that.”
I Know I’m Not Supposed to Do That
My dirty secret is that this Black Friday, I bought some cheap costume jewelry. Ten dollars. Amazon Prime, FTW.
“Psst, ‘Ms. Minimalist,’” you say. “Isn’t jewelry more of a ‘nice to have’ versus a ‘shut up and take my money’ kind of item?”
Indeed. But not all is as it appears upon first glance and a minimalist life is hardly about embracing a cookie-cutter aesthetic and action plan. You see, my minimalist journey has been about asking myself upon encountering an item I may want to buy:
If I buy this particular item, to what extent will it positively alter my mood long-term?
If the item sparks a positive emotion that can only be brought about by that item itself versus another way of replicating that positive mood, I buy it. That “mood,” according to the above, may be about making my daily life easier. It may be about making me healthier. Or, it may help direct or redirect me down a new and better life path. Ideally, it should do two of three.
Then, I ask myself a second question:
Should I instead chase or acquire that same feeling the item may grant me, but without the actual item?
For example, if a beautiful, show-stopping scarf — you know the one, it’s uber funky yet elegant in that Lady-Gaga-meets-Kate-Middleton kind of way and deliciously colorful and means wearing it will bring compliments wherever you go. Now, dig a bit deeper. That same feeling of elegance and independence and standing out in a crowd, making my own way, being unafraid to be bold — dig deeper. Is there a way to attain this same feeling but without the item in hand — for example, through self-expression in writing that makes me feel powerful and connected with the world upon publishing an article, or another means of creativity like cooking a meal for loved ones or taking a long hike in the woods?
These are some pretty existential questions that hit hard on who you are, why you’re here, and what you have to offer to the world. But this inward honesty is where the fun begins.
Small Purchase, Big Impact
I have a plan for how this one (inexpensive and visually unusual) item I bought that I don’t “need” upon first glance may change my life. The cheap jewelry that I purchased will serve as a (most likely Zoom) conversation piece — one that serves as a focal point in a discussion when I’m talking to someone I don’t know or want to connect with on a new level.
This item is cheap, but it tells a story. It may intrigue people out of curiosity as to what it is or where I purchased it, and hopefully, it makes people more interested in knowing more about me. I don’t own many of these kinds of items, but the ones I do pack a serious punch and help me make my mark in the world. If the item I’d purchased were just pretty to look at, it would have stayed in my cart. The feeling this item brings me is hard to replicate because the item itself is necessary to elicit a favorable reaction and response in both myself and others.
I also really enjoy telling people who may think it’s expensive that it’s just an Amazon Black Friday deal of a lifetime. I know I’m not supposed to do that, as a minimalist, but here’s to shaking up the status quo of what it means to be a truly mindful consumer who buys not to fill voids but to fill hearts.
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About the author: Yugen Bond, B.Msc., is a metaphysics writer, podcast host, and reiki master who once despised meditation, had both too much and nothing to wear, and didn’t know how to slow down her thoughts. What a journey it’s been. Time to share it with the world, especially with you. Business inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.