I want to want less, but if I am honest, I am terrible at wanting less. I don’t mean having less. I can de-clutter with the best of them and we live within our means, I mean actually wanting less in the first place. We live on a pretty tight budget. Don’t get me wrong, we have a nice standard of living. We don’t freeze, we don’t starve and we have many of the trappings of modern life. There are many people who really, properly struggle. The point of this isn’t really who has more, but how much I would like to desire less things. Things that I can’t justify buying and so don’t, but so wish I could and it’s the wishing that I would like to stop.
It’s not an attractive quality when we really break it down, is it? Wanting more. Seeing things and thinking ” I want that” or “I wish I could have that” and if there is one thing I wish I could get better at, it is wanting less, coverting less. It’s that niggling feeling that I should be able to have nice things or go more places. I wouldn’t even describe myself as materialistic. I think if I truly was, then I wouldn’t feel as torn as I do. I would be happy to worship at the alter of consumerism and probably have a much bigger credit card bill. But I am not happy to do so. I feel uneasy with this side of myself, but that unease doesn’t make it any easier to stop wanting.
It’s not entirely my fault of course, we are literally bombarded with advertising everywhere we look. Thousands of messages put in front of us every day trying to get us to buy this and go here. That this will make us feel better, make us happier and even if we resist most of the time, there will be moments when we are tired or sad or fed up, or even sometimes when we are happy and feel that we deserve a ‘treat’ and we will cave. We will give into one of these messages or images and believe that buying the ‘thing’ will make us happy.
It is at this point that I am supposed to say that it doesn’t work and that things don’t make us happy and fundamentally they don’t. We need love and health and a certain standard of living for that, but can we we honest for a moment?Sometimes, things do make us happy. A new lipstick, a spruced up living room, a new house plant, your favourite mug, a night off from cooking. Alone, they do not make a life, but they certainly make my life cheerier and I may be shallow to admit it, but I also suspect I am not alone in this.
Social Media doesn’t help us avoid these messages to buy. Even when they are not delivered by the companies wanting us to buy from them, we are seeing small peeps into people’s lives and the ‘things’ they own. Sometimes overtly, I mean who hasn’t posted a “look at this gorgeous new thing I just bought” photo, but often just from seeing glimpses of homes and lives.
We are bombarded from the other side of the coin as well. The simple, slow living, minimalist movement has mushroomed over the last few years and it talks a lot of sense. Encouraging us to think about what we own, what we really need and what we can take out of our overstuffed lives, but it can be problematic for us too. Aside from the fact that it’s proponents can come across as unbelievably smug and self-riteous, it can also seem like just another advert for stuff. Check out any slow living hashtag on Instagram and you will see some beautiful images. Some gorgeous views of course and most that give you a lovely sense of peace and serenity, but many of them will show you gorgeous homewares, amazing spaces filled with the highest quality soft furnishings, crockery, lighting and clothing. Sometimes the simple life can still make those ‘wanting’ senses tingle. Hygge is a fabulous example of this. The Danish idea of enjoying life’s simple pleasures, of gathering with friends and the feeling of cosiness. At this time of year it sounds perfect for all of us. As well as sounding perfect it also makes me want to buy gorgeous scented candles and the cosiest blankets and throws. I suspect not the point of Hygge.
So, how do we go about wanting less? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer and I am hoping some of you do. I read a thing this week, that suggested just feeling the feeling and I am always a fan of letting ourselves feel what we feel. So, simply acknowledging that we are having an urge to spend money, just as we would acknowledge the urge to eat something, or have a glass of wine can help us not to act on that urge. I have made the decision to stop following a lot of businesses on Instagram, to remove some temptation and am trying to satisfy my ‘treat urge’ by getting small or useful things. A box of lovely tea, a bottle of really cheap, but lovely bubble bath. I am hoping that taking these small steps and by being honest, I will start to want less and not feel I am somehow missing out.