Consumerism crept up and reared its ugly head this week (actually a month ago, now). I convinced myself I need a new electric kettle. My old one works fine, but it is made of plastic. Trying now to focus more on my health, the idea of consuming water that has been boiled in a plastic container bothers me. The search for a kettle became my new all-consuming mini desire.
I have made some progress in this area. I almost bought a kettle I didn’t like at Walmart last night, but decided to delay gratification and get one I actually want. I did a little more research, and went ahead and purchased a very nice glass one online. I even ran through the 5 questions on the wallpaper I got from The Minimalists’ website: I can afford it. I plan to donate my old one, so I’m willing to pay the true cost. Spending the money isn’t going to put me in a tough spot. It will add value to my life, as I make coffee with a French-press every day. The alternative is drinking water that might be harmful to me and my wife in our coffee. I could get by without it, but I don’t want to. Seems like a reasonable purchase, right? Still, I don’t like that the want of some material possession has taken up space in my mind, which leaves me wondering:
If minimalism is about living with less to make room for what’s truly important in my life, what am I replacing that materialism with? How am I spending my time and mental resources? What has changed, or is changing? What am I not doing that might be leaving room for consumerism?
I believe lists are in order.
What am I doing now that I wasn’t doing before?
- I spend every morning having coffee (French-pressed coffee made with water from an electric kettle) and breakfast with Theresa. I feel a much stronger connection to her as a result.
- I brush my teeth more regularly. Loathe as I am to admit, dental hygiene has always been a problem for me. Now that I have removed some mental clutter, I can focus on it more.
- I eat, comparatively, super healthy now. I’m never in such a hurry that I have to make bad food decisions. I’m not entertaining or pacifying myself with food.
- I practice drumming more regularly. I play with my band more.
- I am very intentional about picking up after myself and keeping certain spaces in our home tidy. I enjoy being at home now.
- I shave my head every day.
- I often opt to donate things I could probably sell in the hopes I can add value to someone else’s life.
- I exercise nearly every day.
- Typically I don’t go looking for shit to buy. I have grown to almost hate spending money.
- For the first time in my life, my tax return and stimulus went to paying debt instead of buying more shit. I have become tenacious (as I can be) about paying off debt.
- I am putting any extra money I get toward my emergency fund or debt payment.
- I’ve written more articles on my blog in the last couple of months than in its entire existence.
- I look at my phone less.
What could I be doing, or what am I not doing enough of?
- I have stopped my German lessons on Duolingo. This really saddens me because I so very badly want to learn a whole language for once.
- I could do more with my kids.
- I haven’t practiced Taekwondo enough outside class.
- I’m not contributing enough. I used to contribute a lot to church, but I don’t want to now. I need to find something.
I wrote the bulk of this article more than a month ago. I was looking for something else to post on my blog, and decided to revisit it. While I get discouraged at times thinking I’m not “doing it right” (“it” being a simple or intentional or minimal life), it’s refreshing to read this after a month and see that it mostly holds true. Though I could certainly make better use of my time in some regards, my decision to truly be a minimalist really is paying off!
On the other side of that coin, I’ve come to learn recently that being still and becoming comfortable with my own thoughts is as important, if not more important than filling the void with activity. Not only do I need to be intentional with my possessions, but I need to be intentional with my activities as well.