An Experiment in Not Buying Things in 2017
We’re 9-months into 2017 now.
Toward the end of last year, I’d decided that I wanted to try an experiment in not-buying things as a New Years resolution.
That didn’t include disposable things like food, razor blades, shampoo etc., but instead things like clothes, gadgets, random doohickeys etc.
There wasn’t a particular goal in mind when doing this, but more a desire to see how I’d react. I didn’t think of myself as a heavy consumer. Rather, I felt I was much more minimalist than your average person and liked to think that I was quite mindful in my purchasing habits.
The first few months were…interesting, to say the least. I realized very quickly how unconsciously I had been buying things.
Each time I walked into a store, I’d instinctively see something and begin contemplating how it could add value to my life. I especially enjoyed browsing through fashion sections for pieces I could use to update my wardrobe. Going through stores in the first few months, I began to consciously remember my decision to not buy anything.
No updating my wardrobe.
No replacing a bulky TV with a smaller, more portable projector.
No new cellphone.
I quickly became aware of how often I felt the need to buy something, and learned that I’d need to put some effort into being more mindful with myself in shopping centers.
Halfway into the year I noticed my desire to buy things go down. The desire I’d had to upgrade my wardrobe began to dissipate. I didn’t crave for the newest gadgets the way I had before.
It seemed like my overall desire to purchase stuff had gone down. At the same time, I noticed that I also began to have a greater appreciation for the things that I’d already had in my life. That’s not to say that I didn’t care for the stuff I’d had, but that I began to notice a sense of gratitude well up inside.
It’s been said that gratitude is one of the core practices to living a fulfilled life. I’d tried reciting a gratitude list in the past, but could never really get the habit to stick. I’d think of things to be grateful for, and for an instant I may or may not have actually felt that gratitude. But after going through my day, I’d quickly lose the ‘feeling’ that I’ve often been told to have if I wanted to truly be happy.
This is purely my own anecdotal evidence, but this practice of not-buying-things has not only made me a more mindful consumer, but I’ve noticed the side effect of truly being grateful for the stuff I have in my life. That’s also translated to a gratitude for the people that are in my life as well, even more so than prior to this experiment.
I don’t believe that not purchasing things forced that gratitude into me, but more so that I wasn’t consistently distracting myself with new and shiny things, I had to direct my attention somewhere else. This helped me to notice what I’d had in my life, and to appreciate it. A neat side-effect to be sure, and one that has grown stronger with each ensuing month.
I know we’re only 9-months into the year, and I may end up buying something before the year is over. I also may not buy things. I definitely hadn’t prepared for or considered the commercial-Christmas season that we have here in the States. But I’m happy with my results so far 🙂