Why I became a minimalist is a question I often get asked. And it’s not always easy to explain, particularly to those who’ve never heard of minimalism. Or when I tell them that it all came about because of a bottle of vinegar!
Yep, it all began with a bottle of vinegar when my daughter, some years ago, shared that she no longer bought chemical cleaning products!
From going green
Apparently cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and other kitchen ingredients had become a trend. So where had I been?? Oh yeah, here in the Land of Tradition, where folks tend do things just as their mothers always had.
This was all new to me, and frankly I was baffled. So I started researching, and thus began my journey toward natural living. Up to that point I’d had no idea how harmful chemicals are. And shocked at what I learned, I started working toward a chemical-free home.
And on to minimalism
Then I noticed a lot of these natural trends were also linked to Minimalism. Another unknown to me, and a crazy one at that!
Perhaps because of all the wild things I read. Like the man who had to use his neighbor’s bathroom because he had downsized so much that he tore his out! Or folks that stopped buying toilet paper!
Now I’m all for helping neighbors in need, but not because they decide they don’t want a bathroom! And it’s OK with me if you don’t want toilet paper, just let me know before I visit!
But mostly I learned that many environmental issues stem from our consumerist culture.
Manufacturing always consumes natural resources and creates pollution and waste to some degree. And much of it is for unnecessary merchandise and useless baubles! At the rate we’re going, what kind of world will that leave for future generations?
All this started a huge process in my mind, and especially my heart. I started realizing that I had often shopped just to shop, not out of real need. And even spending money we couldn’t really spare. WHY? Good question, and I needed answers! And here is what I learned.
Why we chase after stuff
1. Advertising plays a big part
Advertisers get paid to make us want to buy, and they do a great job! But it’s sad when we become convinced to buy things we don’t need or can’t afford. Or perhaps won’t even want around for long!
2. Shelf displays entice us to buy
Retailers usually take great care in properly arranging shelf and window displays to purposely tempt shoppers to buy stuff.
Some retailers also rent out shelf space based on the shelf’s position. Shelves at eye level are considered premium shelves, and some manufacturers will pay more to get that space.
Why? Because tired shoppers dealing with lack of time and an overwhelming selection of choices tend to choose whichever items they see first.
3. Peer pressure an important factor
We often compare ourselves to others, even without realizing it. And their new gadgets or seemingly better clothes, newer cars, and finer homes often make us want the same stuff.
But the root is lack of contentment
I discovered that what it really boiled down to was simply my lack of contentment. That was the root of the problem. As A.W. Tozer puts it, the heart of man desires possessions. It covets them passionately. And often this continues even as Christ-followers. Even though we know – in our heads – that possessions cannot and will never be able to bring lasting satisfaction.
I had everything, literally everything I needed. Plenty of clothes, nice furnishings, and so much stuff I couldn’t keep track of it or fit it in. I certainly didn’t need more!
And so I decided that I didn’t want to waste energy chasing after (and then maintaining) unnecessary stuff.
Especially because God has already provided all my needs and then some. But mostly because, as a Christ-follower, I believe he has called me to so much more than that.
So I decided that I want to:
- View possessions as useful tools, not my source of happiness.
- Seek true contentment, remembering that God has met all my needs.
- Not be used as a pawn in the advertising game.
Hello wiser shopping
I started thinking through what I buy – asking these questions:
- Do I really need it?
- Is it truly useful?
- Will I want to keep it long term?
- Do I feel it’s necessary to my happiness and contentment?
- And if I don’t need it, could that money go for better things?
Often, I decide to keep the money for a rainy day, invest it in God’s kingdom, or use it to help others. I’ve wasted so much over the years on useless stuff. Most of which has come and gone. Stuff that brought only temporary satisfaction.
But unexpected problems or emergencies will always pop up. Needy people will always surround me. And the satisfaction of knowing that I can meet real needs brings lasting pleasure and real joy.
Do you feel the need for change?
- Do you want to cultivate true contentment?
- Would you like to focus less on stuff and more on finding joy in the simple things?
- Would you want to see your money go farther?
- And have the assurance of knowing that it’s going for meaningful and lasting purposes?
It’s never too late to make changes or start over. Why not begin today?