Mindfulness (n.) – the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
Before jumping into the tangible aspects of A Simple Challenge, I’d like to zoom out and speak to a concept that has been on my heart a lot recently: mindfulness. As dictionary.com describes it above, it is simply the act of being fully present and aware of your surroundings, decisions, self, etc. In a world filled with technological stimuli, busy schedules, etc., it is not easy to slow down and be fully present. We are bombarded with notifications from the moment we wake to the last hours of the day. I have felt it. I feel it. Some days I sit down at my computer and can hardly think straight as e-mails, advertisements, text messages, expectations, and to-do lists fill my screen and swirl around in my head. It can be overwhelming. But as we pursue this journey of living a more sustainable and minimal lifestyle, I’m challenging myself (because truly, I need this reminder each and every day), and you as well, to learn how to be more mindful. To be present. To clear your head and focus on the most important things. To take one step at a time.
But specifically, how does this relate to A Simple Challenge? Mindful purchases.
A little story for you: Last week I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a sweater that I liked. I found out where it was from, hopped onto the website and checked to see if they had my size. They did. Hurrah! But as I was about to add it to my cart I saw the price …well shoot, it was more than I should spend on a sweater. So I stopped, left the webpage and went on with my day. But as I was pondering this little moment later I thought, wow, the only thing that stopped me from seeing, wanting, and purchasing within a matter of minutes was the price. Not the fact that I already own five sweaters or that I just bought one with the same color scheme. I hardly shop online to begin with, but I nearly bought something that I didn’t need. At all. Why is that?
Our culture teaches us to want something new all the time. Commercials tell us that what we have is inefficient, out of date, or embarrassing. The fashion industry introduces new styles weekly. As soon as we buy the newest smartphone a bigger and better one comes out months later. We are trained to want more. Now, please hear me when I say that shopping or buying is not inherently bad. In fact, I love shopping. It’s kind of like a mini adventure or a life sized problem to be solved. I love making or buying meaningful gifts for friends. I love discovering the perfect frame for a treasured photo. I love seeing the look on Sam’s face when I surprise him with something that he’s been wanting for a long time. But I also find myself buying or wanting things without thinking first and ending up with low quality goods or unused duplicates.
So this year, I want to truly challenge myself to think before purchasing. Think before buying a subscription to an online service. Think before wasting time clicking through a catchy advertisement. Think before adding a trendy decor piece to my shopping cart. Because before we can learn to shed the excess from our lives and homes, we need to first be conscious of what we are bringing into them.
To help you as you add this practice to your lifestyle, here are a few things to ask yourself before making a purchase:
- Do I need it?
- Is it a duplicate or do I have something similar?
- Will I get bored of it quickly?
- Is it sustainable? (for my lifestyle and the environment)
- Will it add true lasting value to my life?
If you answer these questions with “yes!” then by all means, go for it! But if you hesitate, consider waiting to purchase. It will be hard at first, I’m still in those growing pains too, but in the end, it will be worth it.
If this post is the first that you have read on The Cooper Journal and you’re wondering what A Simple Challenge is or why are we talking about minimalism, I’d encourage you to read these articles 1) A Practical Guide to Living More Sustainably and Minimally + 2) Minimalism – What is it really?. As always, please let us know your thoughts below. We still have much to learn and a lot more growth ahead, so we love to hear from you too! And if you’ve decided to make mindful purchasing a part of your lifestyle, feel free to share it with us by sending a message or tagging #asimplechallenge and/or @thecooperjournal!
Much love my friends!