In the quest for less clutter and more freedom, I decided to take steps towards a more minimalist lifestyle.
I was at a point in my life where I felt a bit aimless, and was seeking some clarity. I thought it made sense to clear out some of the physical clutter around me to invoke some mental clarity I was after.
I read a book explaining how the practice of creating a decluttered and organized space helps you see things more clearly. I wanted to try it out for myself.
A lot of things around me were beginning to feel like an anchor, as well as a distraction. I thought minimalism could be the answer I was looking for. So I decided to go all in.
I began selling and donating what I saw I could live without.
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Starting with my excessive wardrobe, moving to drawers filled with clutter of all kinds. I sold my television (which was hardly used-as well as not enriching my life anyways) moving on from my bulky desktop computer by switching to just my laptop.
I was tossing and purging until I finally hit my stopping point. To become a true “minimalist” I felt that there were still a lot of items that had to go.
But the possessions I was left with, I realized, were ones that held meaning, value and importance to me. I felt that by discarding these remaining items I would be lacking. These were also items that I had put a lot of thought and research into before deciding to purchase them.
There were also a few things I may have been a bit sentimental about as well. It was then that I discovered I am not as much of an extreme minimalist as I thought.
I realized that the path to take was to become a more conscious consumer.
So What is the Difference?
A conscious person is defined as an individual having an awareness of one's environment and one's own existence, sensations, and thoughts. Someone who is aware, mentally perceptive or alert; awake.
With that, a conscious consumer is one who is bringing the power of mindful awareness to their purchases. When I got honest with myself, I could see how this practice was something I could greatly benefit from.
However, I kept coming back to blogs and books on the topic of minimalism. I wanted to see the benefits it could have on my life.
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It was something about putting the label of 'minimalist' on myself that was not sitting right with me, for whatever reason. I felt that when I compared myself to others living in this way, I was falling short or failing to an extent.
This is when I started to take a look at the specific principles or practices they lived by rather than getting hung up on the label itself.
I saw the traits I wanted to take away and apply to my life, and left everything else alone.
I knew I needed to be more intentional. I needed to be more clear and aware of spending habits. I saw that being a conscious consumer meant being mindful of purchases.
The Conscious Consumer
So my take on the conscious consumer? They are mindful! They are very aware of their purchases, and make them with intent and purpose. They do research on their prospective product or consumer good purchases.
They are content with what they currently have, and take responsibility in making the choice to purchase items rather than allowing alluring marketing to make the choice for them. They focus on filtering items in and out of their life through mindfulness, and not tossing everything out to the curb.
Yes, I am a girl who loves to shop. However later in life I realized it was more so I loved the idea of shopping. I found the fulfillment that shopping gave me in the past was almost like a temporary high.
I wouldn't say I had a major problem, but there were times in the past when I would shop for the sake of shopping. With no clear direction or purpose.
This is fine now and then. Just casual, leisurely shopping can be an enjoyable activity. However, it can lead to problems if not kept in check.
I now ask myself many questions before making a purchase to ensure it makes sense. It has saved time, energy and money.
As a conscious consumer, one will keep in mind...
- Do I need it, or do I have something similar already?
- Do I need to declutter/donate older items before I bring in new ones?
- Will it pair with other items I already have in my wardrobe?
- Is this something I truly see myself wearing or do I just want it because it's 'trendy'?
- Do I have a purpose for this item?
Being a conscious consumer is also about knowing yourself. It's about finding, knowing and owning your personal style, and then shopping within those parameters.
It's about learning what looks good on you: colors, patterns, cuts, sizes, etc. It's also about where you see value, and the quality levels that are acceptable for you with each potential purchase.
Being a conscious consumer means becoming a curator.
Minimalism VS Consumerism
The key takeaway for me was that you really don’t have to choose to become a minimalist in order to enjoy the benefits of becoming a conscious consumer.
It was, again, about applying specific principles that made sense for my life situation.
Now, when I shop, it's with purpose! It changes the whole experience.
If our ultimate goal is happiness and fulfillment, then the important thing is that we are looking in the right places.
The allure of retail therapy is that you will feel better afterwards. However, it doesn’t always live up to those expectations. I know firsthand that empty, mindless consumption can feel just as bad as having nothing at all.
So whether you chose to live happily with very few possessions or you chose to fill your home with lots of things you love and cherish, the important thing is that you made the choice.
Consciously. Mindfully. With intention and gratitude.
About The Author
Krissy is a writer and lifestyle blogger. She is passionate about health & wellness, the joys of simple living, and overall life balance.