How are You Suffering?
The societal expectation is that you will buy more; more for yourself and more for others. You will make purchases to prove that you love another and of course the more expensive the more you love them. Christmas is now a shopping holiday which for many wouldn’t be considered Christmas without tangible gifts. By the time you have purchased one beautiful dress the advertisements have already begun rolling out for the newest design, made from fabric from half way across the world that would of course define you as a person so much better than that dress you just purchased. This mindless buying makes you believe you are now worthy, beautiful, accepted by others and expressive of love however what they truly create in you is financial stress, pressure, anxiety and powerlessness.
“The root of suffering is attachment” – Buddha
You can never satisfy a need that you do not have. Advertising and big businesses have lead us to blindly believe that we need endless possessions in order to feel content. You are told that if a possession is outdated then you are outdated. When the latest iPhone comes out not only do you feel the pressure to upgrade it in order to feel good about yourself, but your present iPhone suddenly becomes a source of discontent for you. You are not your things. You are enough. Most of us in the western world have too much, with the false belief that we require a great deal more to maintain the status quo. This is simply not true but believing that it is causes you to feel the incessant requirement for more. This is the cycle of suffering: feel inadequate and believe that more stuff will fix this only to buy more stuff and still feel discontent.
How can Minimalism Help?
Minimalism is a wonderful path with many benefits, one of which can be the lessening of suffering in your life. By practicing minimalism you no longer feel the pressure to buy things because there has been an upgrade or a new style has come into fashion. Events such as Christmas which used to be a ‘shopping’ holiday have their focus changed to giving your time, love and attention to those you love, instead of giving items with price tags. With this new perspective you let go of the false images of who you are and your supposed lack. You find satisfaction in helping others and now you can focus on doing just that. You find contentment in spending time alone. You find happiness in spending time (not money) with your loved ones. You become more you which is more than enough.
When you embrace minimalism you begin by asking yourself some fundamental questions about the things you have and especially about the things you’re considering buying:
- Do I need this and how often will I use it (give yourself examples) ?
- How will this item bring joy and value into my life?
- Am I buying this item out of requirement or social pressure?
- Does this item compliment other items I own?
- Can I afford this item or will this lead to financial stress?
- How long have I thought about purchasing this item?
A Spiritual Perspective
The Buddha advocates walking the middle path; one of balance. Giving up all possessions is not necessary to achieve an end from suffering in the same way that having an endless supply of new items will not bring you enlightenment. There is nothing wrong with buying and having things but there is something crazy about mindlessly consuming and allowing yourself to suffer with a need for more.
You can become aware of what matters to you when you remove the possessions that have no purpose to you. Own one fabulous pair of jeans instead three that you never wear. When you embrace minimalism you are free from the requirement to shop just because there is a sale on. Your decisions will be based on you and not what others tell you to do. That is freeing, liberating and it is indeed a path out of suffering.
What problems have been released from your life through minimalism? Share with our community below.