“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects.” -Albert Einstein
There is an art in living. A beautiful form that encompasses all aspects of what it means to be alive. The way we live says a lot about who we are as people. I used to live through material possessions. Each object I owned seemingly defined me and gave me worth. Then I took a moment of contemplation and realized that those objects were truly meaningless to me and will continue to be so when I am no longer here.
I live in a world of capitalism and consumption. Those big C’s are enough to mind control people into buying a surplus of unnecessary things. The word “things” in and of itself is arbitrary, implying that the stuff we buy really has no importance. I used to go shopping every weekend because I needed more. I always managed to convince myself that I needed that shirt that didn’t match anything in my closet or I needed that necklace that I would never wear.
The problem was that I couldn’t distinguish between a want and a need. I didn’t buy things because they were truly a necessity that would add value to my life. I bought them because I wanted them and somehow I was convinced that by commodifying myself I would someone attain more social capital or more happiness.
I decided to make a change and adopt a more minimalist lifestyle. I started by purging my belongings. I made piles of things I wanted to keep that were important and things I wanted to get rid of because they no longer served a purpose in my life. It was hard to let go of objects, regardless of how trivial they were. I was somewhat of a hoarder, and I found it easy to keep objects by making excuses for reasons to keep them. In order to stop that, I decided to purge a month later and then two months later until I was rid of the excess things. With this system, change wasn’t drastic and I was more willing to make it.
Decluttering my life of unnecessary objects made room for the important things. This sounds like such a cliche line but it’s true. Once you take out the stuff you don’t need, you free up space, and open your mind to focus on other things that will add value to your life. I was spending less time at stores buying random things and spending more time on myself.
I admit that this process is something I am still working on. I still go out and buy clothes, but now I buy higher quality clothes that will last me a longer time. I still fall victim to the latest makeup trends. The only difference is that clothes and makeup add value to my life. I appreciate fashion and makeup as forms of art that allow me to express who I am. Although I have attributed a sort of worth to these objects, I have taught myself to let go when I no longer need or use them.
I wrote down a list of goals both short and long term. I translated my desire of attaining objects into my desire of reaching my goals. There is a curiosity attached to goals. I am fueled by that curiosity to continue to go after them. I realize that my purpose and worth are intrinsically tied to the actions I take to complete those goals. The journey there is an experience that adds to my identity and completing a goal is fulfilling.
So, free up your mind, continue to chase your goals, and never forget what’s important.