“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”~ Henry David Thoreau
Recently, a friend shared how impulsive she is about the purchases she makes. She feels the urge to pick up everything that’s neatly tucked in the shelves. She gives in to the temptations and often comes back home only to cast aside those purchases until they become part of the increasing junk in her house.
Maybe a lot of you can resonate with it, for that’s how marketers cash-in on our impulsive sense of self- through attractive packaging, storing, and advertisements. As she shared this, I could relate with how I was 3-4 years ago. Maybe the degree of purchasing wasn’t as severe as her’s, but I often ended up buying things I didn’t need. But having turned into a minimalist 1.5 years ago because of massive debt and a need for a shift in my mental well being, I have managed to do away with this impulse of wanting to own everything that appears cool.
Here’s how I do it:
# Avoid going to the malls unless absolutely necessary. But how do you stop yourself when the twitch creeps in? Visualize the dusty roads you’ll have to go through to get there, the dent in your wallet, and think of other great things you could do otherwise and do them instead!
# If you are at the mall for some necessary purchases and happen to cast your eyes on some other wants, simply ask yourself: How will my life be better without it? The standard curiosity is to wonder how our life will be better if we buy it, but this little shift in perspective helps bring down our impulses.
# People generally make unnecessary purchases because they don’t know what’s essential to them. If you take time out to determine the 4-5 essentials of your life, you can focus on making only those purchases that align with your values.
# As a minimalist, I usually give away two of my older clothes when I buy a new one. This helps create a buffer to lower my impulses by helping me ascertain if buying that new cloth is really worth giving away two.
# Is it a need or a want? If it’s a want and you still wish to go ahead with it, just ask yourself how much of life you are willing to trade for it. For example, buying a shiny new car may get you a lot of new admirers, but you’ll be the only one having to expend your time, energy, and effort watching over the scratches, maintenance, and monthly installments to pay for the admiration.
If you just get into the habit of observing the chatters of your mind without acting on them, you’ll soon realize that most urges just rise and fall. This act of urge surfing can help us become more mindful when it comes to unnecessary purchases that we may well regret later in the evening.
Just remember, the best things in life aren’t things.
I had the same impulsive behaviour too. I loved shopping and still do. To avoid this, these days I don’t carry much money in my wallet. That way I will know that I can’t buy it. And this has helped me a lot to stop me from entering every possible shops there is.