I saw this smart-looking blazer that I really wanted – I could always need new clothes for the office, it was in a pretty color I didn’t already have, and what a great fit I found! I bought it in a jiffy and proudly hung it in my wardrobe.
The next morning, I tried it on but was dismayed that I somehow didn’t look as good as the model in the catalogue – ah, it’s probably because I didn’t have that matching pair of pants and the right shoes. And it looks so good with that new bag. Hey, since I’m buying that new pair of pants, shouldn’t I just make it worthwhile and get another blouse to match that?
I realized an interesting feedback loop when I start spending:
The more I buy, the more I need to buy.
The same thing occurred when I bought that new camera and suddenly needed all the accompanying accessories and endless upgrades, or the time I bought a new set of plates, and suddenly needed a whole new set of matching placemats and table linens just so they would “match” well when I threw dinner parties.
It didn’t make things easier that I had just received this hundred-item checklist of “new home essentials” from Bed Bath & Beyond in the mail, that made me think of stuff I never knew I needed – thank you decorative pillows.
The state of our living space tends to be a pretty accurate representation of the state of our mind. Psychological research has shown how physical clutter overloads our senses and stresses us out. When we start removing what isn’t adding value to our life, we start to make room for stuff that actually does, and start creating conditions in our environment to feel calm, content, and whole, giving us the time, space, and energy on things that really matter to us.
“I Need” is a very common thought pattern. However, it is in fact a very disempowering thought as it completely removes the concept of even having a choice.
Every time I think I need something, I now catch myself and pause, and reflect on what I am actually longing for. Do I need that meditation cushion to have a better meditation, or do I simply need to cultivate my inner peace? Do I need to buy that 3-in-1 cooker to save time, or do I simply need to choose simpler recipes, prioritize more time with my family, or even get them involved in the cooking process? It is often not the material things we really need but something deeper that we are longing for – love, connection, acceptance, comfort, or to be meaningful engaged in life.
Am I adding another rock to my life, thinking it is a diamond?
This is Part 2 of our Mindful Spending Series. Read Part 1 here or go to Part 3 here.